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To address complex issues associated with the practical applications of brain-computer interface systems, we have developed a novel biorobotic system. We combine neurophysiological recordings in trained rats chronically implanted with multi-electrode arrays in sensory cortex with a mobile robot to create what we call the RABOT (rat-robot). The RABOT is a unique system that lends itself well to novel experiments in behavioral neuroscience and neural engineering. 6 rats were implanted with multi-electrode arrays in auditory cortex and placed inside a modified 12" round robot with 2-wheel differential drive locomotion controllable via on-board response levers. In preliminary evaluation, RABOTs were passively moved along a 16 ft track while a 2 Hz, free-field click stimulus was delivered at one end of the track. Response latencies varied almost linearly within the 16 ft track from 18-27 msec. Analysis of peak latency of multichannel PSTH responses was performed offline and used to estimate RABOT position and/or predict stimulus onset. The RABOT platform is ideal for both on and offline experimentation that more closely resembles real-world applications of brain-computer interfaces. In addition, multichannel neural recording in a 'real-world' sensory environment will help to further broaden our understanding of parallel processing in the nervous system.
Date of Conference: 20-22 March 2003