September 28, 2011
Scientists Implant Robot Brain Into Rat
Just like right out of a Mary Shelley´s Frankenstein novel, Israeli researchers have created a robot brain in which they implanted into the skull of a rat with brain damage allowing it to function normally again.
Matti Mintz of Tel Aviv University in Israel worked with colleagues to build the rodent-sized artificial cerebellum consisting of a computer chip that is electrically wired into the rat´s brain with electrodes.Since the cerebellum is responsible for coordinating movement, the chip was programmed to take sensory information from the body, interpret it, and communicate it back to the brain stem and throughout the body.
The team conditioned the rat to blink whenever it heard a tone to determine if the robot brain was functioning correctly. When the researchers disabled the rat´s cerebellum, however, the rat could no longer coordinate this behavior. Once the artificial brain was hooked up again, the rat went back to blinking whenever the tone was played.
“It´s proof of concept that we can record information from the brain, analyze it in a way similar to the biological network, and return it to the brain,” Mintz told NewScientist.
While the research is astounding, researchers say the days of having a full-on robotic brain implant are not likely to happen anytime soon.
The work was presented by Mintz at the Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence meeting in Cambridge, UK this month.
On the Net: