A BRAIN implant which could allow humans to detect invisible infrared light has been developed by scientists in America.
Although the light could not be seen lab rats were able to detect it via electrodes in the part of the brain responsible for their sense of touch.
Similar devices have previously been used to make up for lost capabilities, for example giving paralysed patients the ability to move a cursor around the screen with their thoughts. But the new study, by researchers from Duke University in North Carolina, is the first case in which such devices have been used to give an animal a completely new sense.
Dr Miguel Nicolelis said the advance, reported in the Nature Communications journal this week, was just a prelude to a major breakthrough on a “brain-to-brain interface” which will be announced in another paper next month.
Speaking at the annual meeting of the American Academy for the Advancement of Science in Boston on Sunday, he described the mystery work as something “no one has dreamed could be done”.
The second paper is being kept secret until it is published but Dr Nicolelis’s comments raise the prospect of an implant which could allow one animal’s brain to interact directly with another. –TG