Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Learning a New Sense?

Rats use a sense that humans don’t: whisking. They move their facial whiskers back and forth about eight times a second to locate objects in their environment. Could humans acquire this sense? ...The scientific team...attached a “whisker” – a 30 cm-long elastic “hair” with position and force sensors on its base – to the index finger of each hand of a blindfolded subject. Then two poles were placed at arm’s distance on either side and slightly to the front of the seated subject, with one a bit farther back than the other. Using just their whiskers, the subjects were challenged to figure out which pole – left or right – was the back one. As the experiment continued, the displacement between front and back poles was reduced, up to the point when the subject could no longer distinguish front from back. more

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