Behavioural neuroscience

Rat navigation guided by remote control

Free animals can be 'virtually' trained by microstimulating key areas of their brains.


Procedures used to train laboratory animals often incorporate operant learning1 paradigms in which the animals are taught to produce particular responses to external cues (such as aural tones) in order to obtain rewards (such as food). Here we show that by removing the physical contraints associated with the delivery of cues and rewards, learning paradigms based on brain microstimulation enable conditioning approaches to be used that help to transcend traditional boundaries in animal learning. We have used this paradigm to develop a behavioural model in which an experimenter can guide distant animals in a way similar to that used to control 'intelligent' robots.

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Figure 1: Examples of guided rat navigation using brain microstimulation.


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Correspondence to Sanjiv K. Talwar.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Talwar, S., Xu, S., Hawley, E. et al. Rat navigation guided by remote control. Nature 417, 37–38 (2002).

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