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February 13 2013

Night-vision rat becomes first animal with sixth sense


The latest bionic superhero is a rat: its brain hooked up to an infrared detector, it's become the first animal to be given a sixth sense.

Developed by Miguel Nicolelis and colleagues at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, the system connects a head-mounted sensor to a brain region that normally processes touch sensations from whiskers. As shown in this video, the rat's brain is tricked when infrared light is detected, giving it a new sense organ. "Instead of seeing, the rats learned how to touch the light," says Nicolelis.

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