A mouse for Science
Entertainemnt arst services fabricated a complete virtual 3D-data mouse for the Human Brain Project, one of the largest research collabrations all across the globe.
This animal, which only exists in a computer, has eyes, whiskers, skin, a brain, and a body with bones and muscles that function exactly like its natural counterpart. Clearly, all of these elements are still far from being perfect, i.e., from exhibiting behaviour and function corresponding to the original creature.
The mouse works as a development and communication tool for the researches. Brain researchers, as well as robotic researchers can design experiments and then carry them out in simulation with this complex and versatilfunctional model.
For example, one can study a completely simulated animal’s navigation or sensorimotor skills as it operates in a completely simulated environment (e.g., a maze or a straight or sinusoidal vertical path), and the signals of the simulated brain will be recorded in real-time for immediate analysis.
The vehicle for bi-directional translation (brain science « robotics) is the HBP’s neurorobotics platform.
Using the virtual mouse (or humans, or any other animals) in the future, brain scientists can not only copy traditional design experiments into the computer and study the results immediately, they can also modify the mouse any way they want, e.g., introduce lesions into the brain or cut muscles and study the impact it has. Moreover, they can place as many electrodes or other sensors in the body as they want. But perhaps the most astounding benefits of these new possibilities are that scientists can perform experiments that are very, complex – if not impossible to perform in the real world. This includes very long-term studies with permanent recordings (and these can be done 10,000 times faster than in real-time!), animal swarms with parallel recordings, and plasticity and learning effects over many years.
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