This ability to imagine locations away from one’s current position is fundamental to remembering past events and imagining possible future scenarios. Therefore, the new work shows that animals, like humans, possess a form of imagination, according to the study’s authors. […] The team found that rats can precisely and flexibly control their hippocampal activity, in the same way humans likely do. The animals are also able to sustain this hippocampal activity, holding their thoughts on a given location for many seconds — a timeframe similar to the one at which humans relive past events or imagine new scenarios.
“The stunning thing is how rats learn to think about that place, and no other place, for a very long period of time, based on our, perhaps naive, notion of the attention span of a rat,” Harris says. The research also shows that BMI can be used to probe hippocampal activity, providing a novel system for studying this important brain region. Because BMI is increasingly used in prosthetics, this new work also opens up the possibility of designing novel prosthetic devices based on the same principles, according to the authors.
The study has been published in the journal Science.
Researchers at HHMI’s Janelia Research Campus have found that rats posses an imagination. Phys.Org reports: A team from the Lee and Harris labs developed a novel system combining virtual reality and a brain-machine interface to probe a rat’s inner thoughts. They found that, like humans, animals can… Read More