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calendar   Thursday - August 14, 2008

Rat’s ‘brain’ used to power robot .  Not a joke. It’s for real.

I THOUGHT AT FIRST HEY! WHAT AN OPPORTUNITY TO BUILD THE FIRST EVER ROBOT POLITICIAN.  BUT THEN I REMEMBERED, THERE ARE SOME THINGS EVEN

A RAT WILL NOT AGREE TO.

A robot has been created which is powered by a rat’s “brain”.

By Kate Devlin
Last Updated: 1:14PM BST 14 Aug 2008

Electrical signals from rat cells have been harnessed to drive the robot, which is on wheels, around a laboratory.
By stimulating certain responses within the cells scientists have even been able to make the robot, or “animat”, move.
The “brain” is actually rat brain tissue which has been artificially grown in a lab.

The scientists at Reading University hope that they can use the machine to understand more about how our brains work, and even to develop treatments for diseases such as epilepsy, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s Disease.

To create the machine scientists first grew rat nerve cells in a laboratory.
These cells connect with each other, sending signals within around 24 hours.

After a week the scientists can detect activity similar to brain activity. Within two or three weeks the cells can be hooked up to the robot.
The team uses bluetooth technology, which allows them to send communication without the use of wires.

Scientists can also use sonar signals to cause the robot to swerve to avoid a wall, by triggering different signals in the “brain”, reports New Scientist magazine.
The robots currently turn eight out of 10 times, but Professor Kevin Warwick, head of cybernetics at Reading University, who led the study, said that figure could increase substantially.

He said: “[The animal] is actively learning.
“The signals and the pathways are strengthening as each action gets repeated.”

Prof Warwick said he believed that eventually the robot would turn 100 per cent of the time.
He also hopes to use the animat to try to understand more about how the brain works, for example how it remembers things, by capturing the signals.

However, these “brains” have a limited lifespan and currently live for only around three months, as long as they are regularly fed in temperature controlled incubators.
Prof Steve Potter, from the Georgia Institute of Technology, who has been involved in similar technology involving animals and robots, said that it was clear that brain cells have “evolved to reconnect under almost any circumstance that doesn’t kill them.”

http://tinyurl.com/5w3nkj


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Posted by Drew458   United Kingdom  on 08/14/2008 at 09:56 AM   
Filed Under: • MedicalScience-TechnologyUK •  
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