There may be a long way to go before development of an android brain (robotic-human), but the pathways leading there are interesting. The latest announced example is the use of simulated robotic brain model (dubbed “Carl”), based on recordings of rat brain patterns, which will be used to study how the human brain reacts to unfamiliar situations.
“Little is known about the areas of the brain involved in making decisions when faced with uncertainty,” says Jeffrey Krichmar, a University of California, Irvine, cognitive scientist and one of the study’s lead researchers.
Collaborating with Krichmar are UCSD researchers Andrea Chiba, Douglas Nitz, and Angela Yu, who will develop the data for the study by testing the decision-making abilities of rodents during a task in which the locations of stimuli that predict food rewards change abruptly, requiring the rats to adapt to the new environment in order to receive food rewards.
Brain recordings taken from the rodents during the task will be digitally analyzed and programmed into Carl’s software-controlled “brain,” enabling the robot to replicate the same behavior.
“As the robot navigates the same challenging situations the rats faced, though, we’ll be able to actually see the areas of the simulated human brain being utilized to make decisions and the physical changes taking place.”
In addition to potential health applications, study findings are expected to advance the field of robotics, facilitating development of a brain-based algorithm letting robots behave effectively in complex and variable environments.