Computer chip used to make rat blinkSeptember 25th, 2011 - 7:26 pm ICT by IANS
London, Sep 25 (IANS) In a development that could open the way to reverse the effects of dementia, strokes and other brain injuries, scientists used a computer chip to make a rat blink, a conditioned reflex, after deactivating a brain part of the animal.
The chip mimics the cerebellum, a brain area which governs motor control and movement and scientists used it to make the animal learn blinking.
Matti Mintz, from Tel Aviv University, Israel, has developed the artificial cerebellum which sits on the outside of the skull and is wired to the brain using electrodes, reports the Daily Mail.
The chip works by receiving instructions from the brainstem, interpreting them and signalling another part of brainstem which makes motor neurons move.
Mintz developed the chip by studying a real cerebellum’s signals and output using this to create the synthetic equivalent. He also anesthetised the rat and disabled its cerebellum before wiring up the chip.
Next the team taught the sleeping rat a motor reflex by encouraging it to blink by using a sound and a puff of air on the eye repeatedly until the rat learned to blink when just hearing the tone.
Scientists now want to test the chip on larger, conscious animals so they can learn sequence of movements.
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Tags: blink, brain area, brain injuries, brainstem, cerebellum, computer chip, conditioned reflex, conscious animals, daily mail, dementia, electrodes, mintz, motor neurons, puff of air, scientists, signals, skull, strokes, tel aviv university, tel aviv university israel