Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Robot Brains and Pavlovian Conditioning

Knowing that the cerebellum is responsible for coordinating and timing all the body's movements, Mintz and his team wanted to see if the synthetic cerebellum - a computer chip wired to the brain - could receive and interpret sensory information from the brainstem, analyze it like a biological cerebellum does, and transmit the information back to motor centers in the brainstem. To test this robotic interface between body and brain, the researchers taught a lab rat to blink whenever it heard a particular sound. After disabling its cerebellum, they noted that the rat couldn't perform this conditioned response. But once the robotic chip was hooked up to its brain, RoboRat was once again able to blink on cue, as conditioned. more

1 comment:

Benjamin N. Witts said...

Sounds like this could be why many people say the brain causes behavior. Would it be best to say that the chip was another type of environmental stimulus that had control (or influence, if you prefer) over the blink behavior?