'Sixth sense' scientist tips revolution

By Steve Connor

Miguel Nicolelis said he has now created what he has called the 'brain-to-brain interface'. Photo / Thinkstock
Miguel Nicolelis said he has now created what he has called the 'brain-to-brain interface'. Photo / Thinkstock

The scientist who has given a "sixth sense" to laboratory animals by allowing them to detect invisible infrared light has promised an even bigger revolution in the research field he has pioneered.

Professor Miguel Nicolelis, a Brazilian neuroscientist working at Duke University in the United States, said that he has created a way of allowing animals to communicate with each other through artificial aids connected directly to their brains.

The research into the "man-machine interface" could one day allow people to communicate directly with electronic devices by thought alone. It could allow paralysed people to control artificial limbs or give blind or deaf people the possibility of seeing or hearing with the help of brain implants.

Nicolelis said he has now created what he has called the "brain-to-brain interface". He said he could not provide further details because the work is due to be published this month under a strict confidentiality agreement.

Last week Nicolelis announced in a study published in Nature Communications that he had given rats the ability to "feel" infrared light by attaching light detectors to the touch-sensitive regions of their brain, which normally detect the movements of their face whiskers.

Nicolelis said that any physical energy, such as ultrasound or magnetic fields could be used as a new kind of sense. It raised the prospect of augmenting the human senses with brain implants that could detect things currently undetectable by the body.

-Independent

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