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Robots With Human Brains

A robot guided by human brain cells seems to be in the offing in the lab of Kevin Warwick and Ben Whalley at the University of Reading, UK. The two researchers have already created a successful rat brain robot (video).

The team say that observing how their neuron culture responds to stimulation could improve our understanding of neurological conditions such as epilepsy. For instance, the way large numbers of neurons sometimes spike in unison – a phenomenon known as "bursting" – may be similar to what happens during an epileptic seizure. If that behaviour can be altered by changing the culture chemically, electrically or physically, it might hint at potential therapies...

One aim is to investigate any differences in the behaviour of robots controlled by rat and human neurons. "We'll be trying to find out if the learning aspects and memory appear to be similar," says Warwick.

We're now getting close indeed to the head cheese aka smart gels from Peter Watts' excellent 1999 novel Starfish.

The Pacific Ocean slopped two kilometers under his feet. He had a cargo of blank-eyed psychotics sitting behind him. And the lifter was being piloted by a large pizza with extra cheese...

"It's one of those smart gels," Ray said at last... "Head cheese. Cultured brains on a slab. The same things they've been plugging into the Net to firewall infections."

Via New Scientist.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 9/14/2009)

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