Through a Cats Eyes

A computer wired to a cat's brain created videos of what the animal was seeing.

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October 31, 2005
According to an article from the BBC Online Network, a
team of scientists wired a computer to a cat's brain and created videos of what the animal was seeing.

B
y recording the electrical activity of nerve cells in the thalamus, a region of the brain that receives signals from the eyes, researchers from the University of California at Berkeley were able to view these shapes the way cats do.

The team used what they describe as a "linear decoding technique" to convert the signals from the stimulated cells into visual images.

Dr. Yang Dan, assistant professor of neurobiology at UC Berkeley, Fei Li and Garrett Stanley, now assistant professors of biomedical engineering at Harvard University conducted 11 experiments.

They recorded the output from 177 brain cells that responded to light and dark in the cat's field of view.

In total, the 177 cells were sensitive to a field of view of 6.4 by 6.4 degrees. As the brain cells were stimulated, an image of what the cat saw was reconstructed.

The first example was a face. Although the reconstructed image was rather fuzzy, it was clearly recognizable as a version of the original scene. It is possible that a clearer image could be obtained by sampling the electrical output of more cells.

In the cat's brain, as in ours, the signals from the thalamus cells undergo considerable signal processing in the higher regions of the brain that improve the quality of the image that is perceived.

Taking an image from a region of the brain before this image enhancement has taken place will result in a poorer image than the cat is able to see.

The other two examples showed dual woodland scenes, with tree trunks being the most prominent objects.

By being able to tap directly into the brain and extract a visual image, the researchers have produced a "brain interface" that may one day allow the control of artificial organs, and indeed machines by thought alone. It is also conceivable that in given time it will be possible to record what one person sees and "play it back" to someone else either as it is happening or at a later date.
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Reader Comments

Connie    Kingston, ON

3/20/2013 8:02:36 PM

That is so awesome. I have always wondered what my kitties were thinking. Perhaps we will be able to record their dreams (and ours) and play them back so that we can see what our dreams are like. I wish that we could do it now.

I believe that our thoughts can be transmitted like radio signals that others can sometimes pick up on. That would explain why 2 people could tell me exactly what I was thinking and why a friend and I had the exact same dream.

barb    mt.vernon, TX

1/8/2008 10:25:52 PM

hi
i think your article is great.

i would like to know if a cat with blue eyes have a hard time seeing then other cats?
thanks
barb barb@mt-vernon.com

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