Robot with a rat brain

It seems that scientists have discovered yet another way to baffle the public with a potential new way to control robots. If you have not already figured it out by reading the title or watching the video, scientists have developed a robot that is controlled by living rat brain cells or as my classmate says “Brain robots?” If you aren’t too busy worrying about the imminent robot apocalypse, you maybe asking yourself ” How does that work?”

Well it is actually alot more complicated than it sounds and I will try to describe it as best as can. To get these cells, scientists extract the neural cortex from a rat fetus and then seperate all the connecting neurons from each other. They then put all the neurons back together again in a rich nutrient environment containing electrodes. The neurons then reconnect with each other and, after a period of extended time, start communicating with each other using electrical signals. They store the cells in temperature controlled environment (room temperature) and connect to the robot (or “animat”) using bluetooth radio technology.

Here is where things get complicated. The animat has ultra sound sensors on all sides. When the sensors detect something such as a wall, they send a signal to the electrodes which in turn send signals to the neurons. The neurons react to the signal by sending out their own signal which then tells the robot to got left or right.

If your brain isn’t already hurting like mine is, you maybe thinking ” Well thats interesting, but how will this affect human lives with the exception of the machine uprising?” Well scientists believe that doing experiments like these, they may be able to learn alot more about the brain then we do now. And with this knowledge they may be able to find out new treatments or even cures for mental disorders such as Alzheimers or Parkinson’s disease.

(For more information go to http://technology.newscientist.com/channel/tech/mg19926696.100-rise-of-the-ratbrained-robots.html?feedId=online-news_rss20)

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