This is a first as far as I know. Researchers at the University of Reading have created a primitive biological brain from artificially cultured biological neurons and connected it to a diminutive two-wheeled robot. The goal? To understand how the brain stores specific information and how recall functions. Roland Piquepaille:
'The robot’sbiological brain is made up of cultured neurons which are placed onto a multi electrode array (MEA). The MEA is a dish with approximately 60 electrodes which pick up the electrical signals generated by the cells. This is then used to drive the movement of the robot. Every time the robot nears an object, signals are directed to stimulate the brain by means of the electrodes. In response, the brain’s output is used to drive the wheels of the robot, left and right, so that it moves around in an attempt to avoid hitting objects. The robot has no additional control from a human or a computer, its sole means of control is from its own brain.'
By studying how memories are processed, researchers hope, among many other things, to understand how people afflicted by Alzheimer’s disease might be helped.
The University of Reading's School of System's Engineering has the original news, a picture of the robot and a video interview with the researchers. As might be expected, the post on Piquepaille's blog has drawn over 70 comments.