Rat Brain Robot Uses Cultured Rat Neurons

Cultured rat neurons placed on a multi-electrode array (MEA) form the brain of Gordon the robot. This brain is housed in a special temperature-controlled unit separate from the robot; Bluetooth is used for control signals.

The rat neurons life in a nutrient-rich medium kept at a constant temperature; they organize themselves within several weeks, organizing themselves based on electrical impulses received from sensors in the wheels.

(Meet Gordon, a rat neuron-controlled robot.)

"The purpose is to figure out how memories are actually stored in a biological brain," said Kevin Warwick, a professor at the University of Reading and one of the robot's principle architects.

"If we can understand some of the basics of what is going on in our little model brain, it could have enormous medical spinoffs."

(Gordon, a rat neuron-controlled robot video.)

Incredibly, different MEA-based brains show different personalities; Gordon has several 'spare' brains that can be plugged in.

"It's quite funny -- you get differences between the brains," said Warwick. "This one is a bit boisterous and active, while we know another is not going to do what we want it to."

Science fiction readers are thoroughly familiar with this idea; laminated mouse brains are used to pilot interstellar ships in the 1962 story Think Blue, Count Two by Cordwainer Smith.

See also Peter Watts' head cheese from his 1999 novel Starfish, which is a pretty exact match for Gordon's brain.

From Breitbart; thanks to Moira for prodding me into doing this story.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 8/15/2008)

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