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Rat Brain + Robot = Research Answered

Researchers have created a robot, controlled by a rat brain, to help study memory and look into the causes behind some debilitating diseases.

The blob of nerves forming the brain of the robot was taken from the neural cortex in a rat foetus and then treated to dissolve the connections between individual neurons.

Sensory input from the sonar on the robot is piped to the blob of cells to help them form new connections that will aid the machine as it navigates around its pen.

The study has big implications, say the researchers.

The brain cells have been taught how to control the robot's movements so it can steer round obstacles and the next step, say its creators, is to get it to recognise its surroundings.

Once the robot can do this the researchers plan to disrupt the memories in a bid to recreate the gradual loss of mental faculties seen in diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

Interesting stuff from the BBC.

Side note: When you watch the video, notice the volume bar. But these go to eleven!

Discussions

That's crazy, I never knew that we had the technology to do anything like that. I wonder how they are "teaching" it to avoid obstacles.

they spray obstacles with rat poison,of course:P
when it is like that,you can only screw up once

That could ruin a lot of hard work.

nope,they would make spare rat brains,like a car computer:)

I guess they could, but they would have to re-teach it everything that it learned before they killed it.

That's funny. Actually, rat poison is really only effectivive if consumed (though if it touched it's brain, I'm sure it would work too). Rats actually have an instinct that makes most poisons largely ineffective against them. Any new food item they come across they only take very small bites out of, then they wait to see if it makes them sick before eating the rest. In this way they avoid consuming lethal doses, and build a tolerance to the poisons they are exposed to. Interesting critters, rats.

Can it be qualified as artificial intelligence or more as a prosthesis for a rat's brain? Is the rat really controlling the robot and avoiding obstacle or simply it moving randomly? Can it be done DIY style?

I was wondering what to do with all the spare rat foetus brain cells.

Do you think Digikey sells rat fetuses? I've looked in the microcontroller section, but didn't found any, my catalog is a bit old, it may be why... :P

One step closer to the Robo-War...

Yeah, they are going to use it in wars soon...

Hellz yeah!!! Stock up on all the guns and wii zappers you can find. The carnage is non but inevitable!!!

Its like a UAV but on wheels and can be easily shot and destroyed, but I guess they can use it in buildings or when they don't have a UAV available.

Rat foetus, mmmm, I need a tee shirt with that on it in white letters and a rat brain above it.

This is gross! A rat brain in a robot!