Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Downstate Scientists Creating "Search-And-Rescue" Rats

Date:
May 3, 2002
Source:
Suny Downstate Medical Center
Summary:
Researchers at SUNY Downstate Medical Center have developed a means of remotely guiding rats, promising the development of "search-and rescue" rodents that could be used to find human beings in rubble, identify the location of land mines, and other critical uses.

Researchers at SUNY Downstate Medical Center have developed a means of remotely guiding rats, promising the development of "search-and rescue" rodents that could be used to find human beings in rubble, identify the location of land mines, and other critical uses.

Related Articles


"Our discovery grew out of ongoing research into the development of thought-controlled prosthetic devices for spinal chord injury," said John K. Chapin, Ph.D., in whose laboratory the work took place. "That research led us to enable rats to move a robotic arm with thought alone. It was a natural step to stimulate the rats to move through space." Dr. Chapin is professor of physiology and pharmacology at SUNY Downstate.

Dr. Chapin, research associate Sanjiv Talwar, M.D., Ph.D., and others report in the current issue of Nature that they implanted probes into areas of the rat brain responsible for reward and those which process signals from their whiskers. Wires from the probes ran into a backpack carried by each rat containing a microprocessor-based remote-controlled stimulator. They trained the rats to interpret the remote instructions in a maze. By stimulating the whisker centers they steered the rats, and by stimulating the brain's reward center they reinforced the desired behavior.

After the rats are trained in the laboratory, they can be made to turn, run, jump and climb through an unconfined three-dimensional environment following instructions issued from a laptop computer. The rats have been directed to climb trees and fences and to explore building rubble.

"A search-and-rescue dog costs $60,000 a year to maintain, and you cannot use them in very tight spaces," Dr. Chapin explains. "Nor could you use a dog to discover land mines, since the weight of the animal would detonate the explosive. A rat, however, being small and light, could sit on the mine without exploding it, making it possible to identify its location and dispose of it safely."

"In addition, rats are more mobile than mechanical robots, which often are stymied by obstacles such as fences, rocks and debris," says Dr. Chapin. "While robots would be useful in environments where a living thing could not survive, such as where there are fires or poisonous gases, the rat has rather sophisticated navigational skills developed over 200 million years of evolution. It makes sense to make good use of the animal's abilities."

Dr. Chapin's research is funded by the federal Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). SUNY Downstate Medical Center is the only academic medical center serving Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island, comprising a College of Medicine, Colleges of Nursing and Health Related Professions, a School of Graduate Studies, and the 376-bed University Hospital of Brooklyn. In 1998, one of its researchers, Dr. Robert F. Furchgott, won the Nobel Prize in Medicine.

Editor's Note: The original news release can be found here


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Suny Downstate Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Suny Downstate Medical Center. "Downstate Scientists Creating "Search-And-Rescue" Rats." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 May 2002. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/05/020503080514.htm>.
Suny Downstate Medical Center. (2002, May 3). Downstate Scientists Creating "Search-And-Rescue" Rats. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/05/020503080514.htm
Suny Downstate Medical Center. "Downstate Scientists Creating "Search-And-Rescue" Rats." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/05/020503080514.htm (accessed November 29, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Tryptophan Isn't Making You Sleepy On Thanksgiving

Tryptophan Isn't Making You Sleepy On Thanksgiving

Newsy (Nov. 27, 2014) — Tryptophan, a chemical found naturally in turkey meat, gets blamed for sleepiness after Thanksgiving meals. But science points to other culprits. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Newsy (Nov. 24, 2014) — A new study links greater authority with increased depressive symptoms among women in the workplace. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Newsy (Nov. 23, 2014) — Millions of American suffer from seasonal depression every year. It can lead to adverse health effects, but there are ways to ease symptoms. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) — Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins