World Science Scholars
2.2 First Artificial Senses
  • Nicolelis determined that neurons involved in motor control are found in many areas of the brain, not just the primary motor cortex or the parietal cortex, shaping a new view of the brain.
  • The brain is extremely plastic, meaning that it can adapt to new circumstances.
  • Working with monkeys who had robotic arms, Nicolelis’ research showed that if you provide visual feedback from the robotic arm to the monkey, the monkey assimilates the properties of the robot as an extension of its body. The monkey’s brain reinterpreted the artificial device as an actual extension of its body.
  • To answer the question, “Can we induce adult animals to acquire new senses through prosthetic devices?”, Nicolelis’ lab was able to take advantage of the brain’s natural plasticity, to give rats a new sense—the ability to detect infrared light.

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