The Museum of Hoaxes
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About the Mad Science Museum

A collection of strange and curious science miscellanea brought to you by the author of Elephants on Acid and Electrified Sheep
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Seeing Through Cat’s Eyes
imageIn 1999 researchers led by Dr. Yang Dan, an assistant professor of neurobiology at the University of California, Berkeley, anesthetized a cat with sodium pentothal, chemically paralyzed it with Norcuron, and secured it tightly in a surgical frame. They then glued metal posts to the whites of its eyes, and forced it to look a screen that showed scene after scene of swaying trees and turtleneck-wearing men.

This was not a form of Clockword-Orange-style aversion therapy for cats. Instead, it was a remarkable attempt to tap into another creature's brain and see directly through its eyes. The researchers had inserted fiber electrodes into the vision-processing center of the cat's brain. The electrodes measured the electrical activity of the brain cells and transmitted this information to a nearby computer which decoded the information and transformed it into a visual image. As the cat watched the images of the trees and the turtleneck-wearing guy, the same images emerged (slightly blurrier) on the computer screen across the room.

The commercial potential of the technology is mind-boggling. Forget helmet-cam at the superbowl; get ready for eye-cam. Or how about this — never carry a camera again. Take pictures by blinking your eyes. It would work great unless you had a few too many drinks on vacation.
References
  • Dan, Y., et al. (1999). "Reconstruction of Natural Scenes from Ensemble Responses in the Lateral Geniculate Nucleus." Journal of Neuroscience. 19(18): 8036-42.
Posted By: alex | Date: Tue Aug 02, 2011
Category: Animals, Physiology, Brain, 1980-1999, United States, Sight,
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