Ultrasound blasts endow your brain with sensory superpowers

Most of us would love to have a superpower, but I can't say that having a super sensitive sense of touch would be high on my list. Still, if you think about it, being able to detect subtle differences between various tactile stimuli could be really useful. Blind people who can read Braille with their fingers certainly have this ability, so imagine if you could combine that level of super sensitive touch with normal vision.

Researchers at Virginia Tech's Carilion Research Institute have been experimenting with how blasting a very confined area of the cerebral cortex can enhance a person's sense of touch, but it doesn't really work the way you might think. With the additional brain stimulus, the electrical signals racing through the body's nervous system are actually reduced in level, but the result is a signal that may be weaker, but actually more focussed.

The scientists conducted two tests using the hands of several subjects. One would measure their ability to perceive two points touching the skin as two distinct stimuli, while the other measured the subject's ability to notice subtle changes in the rate of a pulsating air jet blowing on the skin. In both tests, the test subjects performed better when the ultrasound was being applied than when it was removed.

Now, if they could only find a way to keep the enhancement going after the sound was switched off, then we might be onto something. As it stands I'm not sure many people will want to walk around with an ultrasound gun shooting into their brain just so they can have a super Spidey sense of touch.

Science Daily, via Gizmodo

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