Museum of Hoaxes
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Web Hoax Museum


#16: Seeing Through Cat’s Eyes
imageIn 1999 researchers led by Dr. Yang Dan, an assistant professor of neurobiology at the University of California, Berkeley, anesthetized a cat with sodium pentothal, chemically paralyzed it with Norcuron, and secured it tightly in a surgical frame. They then glued metal posts to the whites of its eyes, and forced it to look a screen that showed scene after scene of swaying trees and turtleneck-wearing men.

This was not a form of Clockword-Orange-style aversion therapy for cats. Instead, it was a remarkable attempt to tap into another creature's brain and see directly through its eyes. The researchers had inserted fiber electrodes into the vision-processing center of the cat's brain. The electrodes measured the electrical activity of the brain cells and transmitted this information to a nearby computer which decoded the information and transformed it into a visual image. As the cat watched the images of the trees and the turtleneck-wearing guy, the same images emerged (slightly blurrier) on the computer screen across the room.

The commercial potential of the technology is mind-boggling. Forget helmet-cam at the superbowl; get ready for eye-cam. Or how about this — never carry a camera again. Take pictures by blinking your eyes. It would work great unless you had a few too many drinks on vacation.

Listed in chronological order. Newest comments at the end.
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I would have to say this is false report of Dr. Yang Dan. Ask anyone who knows how images are made on a computer screen or photography (analog and digital) and they will explain how non-biological it is.
Posted by Mark  on  Thu Aug 30, 2007  at  10:39 AM
Clockwork Orange?
Posted by M  on  Thu Sep 13, 2007  at  04:54 PM
i don't think this is a false report.

It has appeared in many major Scientific Journals and I also remember visiting a project website that had detailed information, photographs, and even some videos of the output from the electrodes during the experiment.
Posted by Terranova  in  Los Angeles, CA  on  Thu Sep 13, 2007  at  05:13 PM
Is this true? How come I haven't heard of it? The most awesome application of this technology would be the transformation of dreams into images on computer screen. There was a movie where they did this.
Posted by Joe  on  Fri Sep 14, 2007  at  11:48 AM
is it just me, or is everyone else also seeing the banner at the bottom for, a cat health website? the banners says:

"for fabulous felines that deserve the best"

isn't that hilariously ironic?
Posted by Terranova  in  Los Angeles, CA  on  Fri Sep 14, 2007  at  11:58 AM
It wouldn't help capture dreams. it is only recording and decoding input just past the eyes, visual experiences deeper into the visual system are much harder to decode.
Posted by patrick wilken  in  boston  on  Fri Sep 14, 2007  at  11:25 PM
I hope they let the cats lead a relatively normal life afterwards.
Posted by John S  in  Berkeley, CA  on  Sat Sep 22, 2007  at  03:32 AM
i don't think it's possible for a cat to live, much less a normal life, after an experiment like that.

poor kitty. ;_;
Posted by guy  on  Mon Sep 24, 2007  at  01:25 AM
Unless they were vivisected afterwards to examine their brains, or just killed since the experimenters were done with them, the cats might have lived OK--sodium pentothal and Norcuron are just temporary anaesthetics/muscle relaxants, and wouldn't have injured the cats. Electrode implant also isn't lethal. i tried to Google info on the cat's fate, but didn't find any. I won't sweat it too much, but it is unpleasant to picture.
Posted by John S  in  Berkeley, CA  on  Mon Sep 24, 2007  at  11:52 AM
Appears to be real. Here is an article on it.
Posted by unbound  on  Tue Oct 02, 2007  at  12:22 PM
Appears to be true from the site that ^ showed.
Posted by Joe  in  PhIlLy  on  Wed Oct 10, 2007  at  05:21 PM
They should give the cat different types of drugs such as LSD to see if they have any direct affects on the visual processing.
Posted by Poopy  on  Fri Jul 25, 2008  at  02:34 AM
That's awful. What kind of heartless bastards can do these horrible experiments to innocent animals? Try it on serial killers or mass murderers, they're obviously never going to live a normal life anyway. Better them than a poor sweet little kitty. mad
Posted by kitty-kitty123  on  Mon Oct 20, 2008  at  04:40 PM
kitty-kitty123, your obviously a female of around... 10 years old?
Posted by .  on  Tue Oct 28, 2008  at  10:56 AM
I'm 16, and I fail to see how my gender has any bearing on this. And exactly what part of my logic did you find fault with? Moron... this world would be an infinitely better place if everyone cared about life like children do.
Posted by kitty-kitty123  on  Tue Oct 28, 2008  at  02:22 PM
thanks mark!
Posted by Tom Terranova  in  Los Angeles, CA  on  Wed Oct 29, 2008  at  10:29 AM
To . (tue Oct 28 2008), I would much prefer to be recognized as a "10 year old female" with a compassionate, caring nature than a finger pointing, name calling 'adult male' (?) Despite the fact that the repression of females may account for the lack of women scientists both in the past and now, I find it extremely curious (not)
that it is predominantly the Human Adult Male finds scientific reason for the absurd mutilation and senseless prolonged cruelty of many and any of life's defenseless creatures with pride but no conscience. Now, before you immediately accuse me of being a man-hating-lesbian, take 3 deep breaths and think before you speak.
Posted by Brenda  in  Melbourne, Australia  on  Sun Mar 01, 2009  at  01:45 PM
Nice one Brenda. I said NICE ONE BRENDA!!
Posted by Adam  in  Melbourne  on  Sun Mar 01, 2009  at  06:53 PM
I'd say I have to agree in part with Kitty...

It would be much better to use convicted criminals (especially those convicted of multiple violent offences) because that way you'd at least have some kind of understandable response during the testing. Also if the tests do happen to prove fatal, you're not really losing anything. In fact you're gaining more space in the prisons for future offenders/subjects.
Posted by Code Monkey  on  Tue May 05, 2009  at  10:08 AM
Whenever I see heated talks about animal cruelty I am always reminded of an excerpt from the movie "Kymatica":

"We all have demons, so to speak, we all have inner demons in our lives but we expect to see devilish monsters or dark apparitions when you think of a demon, kinda like what you see in cinema. But, our demons are really the people in our everyday lives, the people we argue with, the people that we envy or hate, the ones we physically or emotionally harm in some way, shape, or form. It's not because we envy or hate qualities in these specific people as much as we hate the fact that they remind us of ourselves; they reflect qualities about ourselves that we wish we had more of, or that we wish we didn't have at all. So what do we do? We alleviate that pain, not by fixing or fighting our own demons, but by harming the people that remind us of our demons, by hounding the people that remind us of the things we don't like about ourselves. And when we become fustrated that we're not in control of our own emotions because we don't really know whats affecting our emotions, we take it out on others, we take it out on absolutely anything else that can show us, or act as a catalyst for our hatred.

And so we do the same thing to animals, animals are perfect because they can't defend themselves. It's a perfect catalyst for inner aggression, our confusion, our hatred...just take it out on something absolutely helpless. Just imagine how unconscious a person has to be of his or her actions, to torture or mutilate or brutalize any living thing. Think of the lack of compassion you must have towards life in general to be able to feel no semblance of sympathy towards entire populations, let alone just individuals or individual animals...Entire populations of species that are bred specifically for the purpose of commodity. But I'll tell you what's even more not so much that people carrying out this cruelty, because that's already been established. That form of hatred and cruelty has already been established and is already known. What I'm really worried about is the people who are against inhumanity, the people who are against animal cruelty and feel self righteous enough to think that it's justified to inflict harm or even whish harm on these people. Because those are the people who take unconscious cruel behavior to a whole new level of conscious cruel behavior that's perfectly acceptable to them. Because they feel that it's their job to bring other people to justice. Like they're an authority figure of some sort. Those are the people who will have a much harder time figuring out why they harbor so much inner hatred and resentment.

They don't seem to realize that it's just another form of the same exact hatred."
Posted by Mike  in  Maryland  on  Sat Oct 24, 2009  at  06:46 AM
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