A robot controlled by a blob of rat brain cells could provide insights into diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

Created at the University of Reading, the project marries 300,000 rat neurons to a robot that navigates via sonar.

The neurons are now being taught to steer the robot around obstacles and avoid the walls of the small pen in which it is kept.

By studying what happens to the neurons as they learn its creators hope to reveal how memories are laid down.

Details here.

See also this: Robot controlled by “brain” in a culture

In another matter, the following is fiction, right? Right?


  1. #1 Alan Kellogg
    August 13, 2008

    I can see it now, a bunch of rat brain controlled robots distracted by every human they see, and pestering those humans for reassurance and emotional contact.

  2. #2 Yogi-one
    August 14, 2008

    EEEEEKK!! A Rat-bot!
    (Jumps on chair and swats at the robo-pest with a broom)

  3. #3 Ian
    August 14, 2008

    Greg – your “see also this” link is broken.

  4. #4 Richard Parker
    August 14, 2008

    “A robot controlled by a blob of rat brain cells could provide insights into diseases such as Alzheimer’s.”

    This is first-class bullshit. Alzheimer’s is a fashionable disease because a lot more people are growing older, and their minds are deteriorating.

    Ronald Reagan gave the disease a big puff, although he probably had it long before anyone recognised the symptoms.

    Nobody on the American right-right-wing gives a shit about them once they’re past their productive stages.

    This is more about putting rats’ brains into automatic soldiers.

  5. #5 rob
    August 14, 2008

    well, we won’t be having any robo-cops for a while. looks like we’ll first get a rato-cop:

    “all your cheese are belong to us.”

  6. #6 leslie
    August 14, 2008

    im sure the findings could be applied to Alzheimers.. but you are right Richard, the military will probably fund the hell out of it so they can use it for new and improved ways to kill. we are all pawns.

  7. #7 Green Eagle
    August 14, 2008

    I’m sorry, but I could have happily lived the rest of my life without ever seeing the headline “Rat Brain Implanted in Robot.”


  8. #8 Ben Zvan
    August 14, 2008

    I’d like to see an experiment expanding on this one where the brain’s development is not so tightly controlled.
    It would be interesting to give the grid input and output connections to a variety of sensors and motor functions and see if the brain cells can figure it all out. For example, the sonar send and receive could be controlled by one output from the brain and two inputs. That way, the researchers could spend more of their grant money on pizza and less on providing stimulus to random brain cells.