Cyborg rats to the rescue

Rats equipped with radios that transmit their brainwaves could soon be helping to locate earthquake survivors buried in the wreckage of collapsed buildings.

First the researchers from the University of Florida identified the brain signals rats generate when they have found a scent that they are looking for.

Each rat has electrodes permanently implanted in the olfactory cortex, where the brain processes odour signals; the motor cortex, where it plans its next move; and the reward centre, which when stimulated gives a pleasurable sensation.


The rats were trained to search for human odour by stimulating the reward centre when it found its target smell; but also to sniff out the explosives TNT and RDX – key after terrorist attacks that may leave buildings harbouring unexploded bombs.

Signals from the rat’s brain will be relayed to a radio transmitter pack strapped to the animal’s back. Rescuers will be able to follow the rat’s position by tracking these signals.

The team hope to create a working system within nine months.

From New Scientist, via btang Reblog.