Brain hack: Cockroach neurons hijacked to control movement

23 Oct 2015 – Researchers who picked a cockroach’s brain to find specific neurons responsible for motor function and speed were then able to make the insect obey commands, findings which could improve the development of drones, robots and self-driving cars. Current Biology To navigate in the world, an animal’s brain must produce commands to move, change direction, and negotiate obstacles. In the insect brain, the central complex integrates multiple forms of sensory information and guides locomotion.  Recording from central-complex neurons in freely walking cockroaches (Blaberus discoidalis), we identified classes of movement-predictive cells selective for slow or fast forward walking, left or right turns, or combinations of forward and turning speeds. These results indicate that encoding of movement in the central complex participates in motor control by a distributed, flexible…


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