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The Neurally Controlled Animat: Biological Brains Acting with Simulated Bodies

DeMarse, Thomas B. and Wagenaar, Daniel A. and Blau, Axel W. and Potter, Steve M. (2001) The Neurally Controlled Animat: Biological Brains Acting with Simulated Bodies. Autonomous Robots, 11 (3). pp. 305-310. ISSN 0929-5593. PMCID PMC2440704. doi:10.1023/A:1012407611130.

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The brain is perhaps the most advanced and robust computation system known. We are creating a method to study how information is processed and encoded in living cultured neuronal networks by interfacing them to a computer-generated animal, the Neurally-Controlled Animat, within a virtual world. Cortical neurons from rats are dissociated and cultured on a surface containing a grid of electrodes (multi-electrode arrays, or MEAs) capable of both recording and stimulating neural activity. Distributed patterns of neural activity are used to control the behavior of the Animat in a simulated environment. The computer acts as its sensory system providing electrical feedback to the network about the Animat's movement within its environment. Changes in the Animat's behavior due to interaction with its surroundings are studied in concert with the biological processes (e.g., neural plasticity) that produced those changes, to understand how information is processed and encoded within a living neural network. Thus, we have created a hybrid real-time processing engine and control system that consists of living, electronic, and simulated components. Eventually this approach may be applied to controlling robotic devices, or lead to better real-time silicon-based information processing and control algorithms that are fault tolerant and can repair themselves.

Item Type:Article
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URLURL TypeDescription ReadCube access CentralArticle
Wagenaar, Daniel A.0000-0002-6222-761X
Additional Information:© 2001 Kluwer Academic Publishers. We thank C. Michael Atkin, Gray Rybka, and Samuel Thompson for early programming on the Animat and neural interface and MultiChannel Systems ( for their gracious technical support; Sami Barghshoon and Sheri McKinney for help with cell culture; Jerome Pine and Scott E. Fraser for support, advice, and infrastructure; and Mary Flowers, Shannan Boss, and Vanna Santoro for ordering and lab management. This research was supported by a grant from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, RO1 NS38628 (SMP) and by the Burroughs-Wellcome/Caltech Computational Molecular Biology fund (DAW).
Funding AgencyGrant Number
NIHRO1 NS38628
Caltech Burroughs-Wellcome Center for Computational Molecular BiologyUNSPECIFIED
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)UNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:MEA; multi-electrode arrays; rat cortex; prosthetics; hybrid system cybernetics
Issue or Number:3
PubMed Central ID:PMC2440704
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20161129-085404424
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Official Citation:DeMarse, T.B., Wagenaar, D.A., Blau, A.W. et al. Autonomous Robots (2001) 11: 305. doi:10.1023/A:1012407611130
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:72364
Deposited By: Ruth Sustaita
Deposited On:29 Nov 2016 17:19
Last Modified:11 Nov 2021 05:00

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