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Researchers made VR goggles for mice to check how their brains reply to swooping predators

Consider it or not, scientists have been utilizing digital actuality setups to check mind exercise in lab mice for years. Up to now, this has been achieved by surrounding the mice with flat shows — a tactic that has apparent limitations for simulating a sensible setting. Now, in an try and create a extra immersive expertise, a workforce at Northwestern University truly developed tiny VR goggles that match over a mouse’s face… and most of its physique. This has allowed them to simulate overhead threats for the primary time, and map the mice’s mind exercise all of the whereas.

The system, dubbed Miniature Rodent Stereo Illumination VR (or iMRSIV), isn’t strapped onto the mouse’s head like a VR headset for people. As an alternative, the goggles are positioned on the entrance of a treadmill, surrounding the mouse’s total subject of view because it runs in place. “We designed and constructed a customized holder for the goggles,” mentioned John Issa, the research’s co-first writer. “The entire optical show — the screens and the lenses — go all the best way across the mouse.”

Dom Pinke/ Northwestern College

Of their exams, the researchers say the mice appeared to take to the brand new VR setting extra rapidly than they did with the previous setups. To recreate the presence of overhead threats, like birds swooping in for a meal, the workforce projected increasing darkish spots on the tops of the shows. The best way they react to threats like this “just isn’t a discovered conduct; it’s an imprinted conduct,” mentioned co-first writer Dom Pinke. “It’s wired contained in the mouse’s mind.”

With this methodology, the researchers had been capable of file each the mice’s outward bodily responses, like freezing in place or rushing up, and their neural exercise. Sooner or later, they could flip the situation and let the mice act as predators, to see what goes on as they hunt bugs. A paper on the method was revealed within the journal Neuron on Friday. 

This text initially appeared on Engadget at

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