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Some important requirements are outlined for future research on the nervous system if more complex details are to be determined and effectively applied to engineering systems. In particular, these include the development of more precisely controlled and accurate complex stimulus-response experiments, the rapid analysis of characteristically noisy records for the detection of fine detail responses and the intensive correlation of such experiments with adequate theoretical modeling. An "on-line" remote computer station used in conjunction with a central data processing system is described which facilitates the above objectives. This biological control and data processing system is designed to control and accurately record complex multistimuli multiresponse experiments, rapidly digitize pertinent information, send this to the central computer and also receive back analyzed results in graphical form. The application of the system to specific research, at the California Institute of Technology, on sight perception systems is illustrated. Particularly pertinent has been its use to accurately determine and analyze the complex flight torque phototropisms of the housefly, Musca domestica. Less sophisticated experiments made before the application of this data processing system were most discouraging. This was due to the extreme variations between single records, the large apparent noise or uncorrelated responses together with the evidence of complex multifrequency responses and variable sensitivity to different components of the stimuli. The application of the computer system resolved the data analysis problems and many of the required stimulus accuracy problems.
Date of Publication: April 1963