Rats Possess ‘Teleportation’ Skill – But in VR, Research Finds

Rats Possess 'Teleportation' Skill – But in VR, Research Finds
Rats Possess 'Teleportation' Skill – But in VR, Research Finds

Africa-Press – Namibia. New research has shown that rats, with their hippocampus-driven imagination, can advance cognitive science by aiding in 3D thinking exercises, which has implications for our understanding of memory and the development of technologies based on neural signals.

Rats have demonstrated the ability to manipulate objects within a digital environment using their brain activity, akin to telekinetic abilities seen in science fiction. Instead of mystical powers, these rats use the power of their imagination.

This groundbreaking phenomenon was described in the latest issue of the journal Science, highlighting the brain’s capacity to predict future scenarios and revisit memories.

Mayank Mehta, a neurophysicist at UCLA, expressed his admiration for the research, describing it as exceptional. He emphasized its role in ushering in further study. He mentioned that a deeper scientific understanding of the brain area involved could assist researchers in diagnosing and treating memory disorders.

Albert Lee, a neuroscientist, and his team at Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Janelia Research Campus in Ashburn, Virginia, explored the brain’s ability to traverse time by mentally recalling or predicting events. Lee, now a Howard Hughes Medical Institute researcher at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, believes these mental capabilities enrich our inner lives.

The initial inquiry of the team focused on spatial imagination: whether one can think about a different place while stationary. Lee explains that the task for the rats was straightforward and did not involve complex memory tasks.

Chongxi Lai, a collaborator and now Lee’s colleague at Beth Israel Deaconess, trained rats to navigate a 3D virtual environment on a spherical treadmill. The neural activity in their hippocampus, crucial for processing spatial information, was recorded via electrodes.

The scientists were curious to ascertain whether the rats had the capacity for mental navigation. By employing patterns of brain activity from the hippocampus, the rodents learned to reposition a virtual cube onto a helical structure. When the rats managed to do this correctly, they were rewarded with water. This particular study had the virtual landscape controlled by the brain waves of the rats, rendering their treadmill activities irrelevant.

The researchers trained rats intensively, and they learned how to keep a cube in the right position. This skill showed that they were able to use their memory center, the hippocampus, to trigger specific patterns of brain cell activity. Impressively, the rats could even appear to “teleport” to different locations in a virtual world, highlighting their imaginative capabilities.

Daoyun Ji, a neuroscientist at Baylor College of Medicine who didn’t participate in this study, thinks that these results strongly support the idea that imagination plays a key role in how we approach new tasks. He also suggests that the way humans imagine things might work through a similar process in the hippocampus.

The hippocampus, a part of the brain involved in memory and navigation, is complex and not completely understood yet. It processes both spatial and more conceptual information, as Mayank Mehta pointed out.

Humans have been able to control computers and robotic arms just by thinking, as shown in earlier research. Building on this, Lee thinks that in the future, we might be able to use brain signals from the hippocampus for even more complicated tasks, given our brain’s ability to engage in more extended and varied thought processes.

For More News And Analysis About Namibia Follow Africa-Press


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here