Rats do not believe in virtual reality




Rats do not believe in virtual reality

If you were a rat living in a completely virtual world like the Matrix , would you know about it? Maybe not, but scientists believe that your brain could be sure. Recent studies have shown that certain brain cells of rats operate differently depending on whether the animals are in a virtual reality world or real.

Neurons in question, known as spatial cells, they respond to changes in the location of the body and are found in the hippocampus – part of the brain responsible for spatial orientation and memory. When you leave the house, these cells fail, recalling that in two steps from the door to a bush. They work again when you get home and walk next to a bush, even though you are moving in the opposite direction. Scientists have long suspected that these cells help the brain generate a map of the world around us. But how cells recognize the fact that they are in some place for the first time?

Previous studies have shown that these cells rely on three different types of information. First, they analyze the “visual cues” that is what you see around you. Second, they analyze the so-called “self-movement signals.” These signals are provided on how your body is moving in space, and are the reason that you can find a way out of the room with the lights off. The last type of information – a “proximal signals” that capture data about your surroundings. The smell of the bakery on the way to work, the sounds of the streets, clogged, pattern on the grass in the park – all these proximal signals.

In the real world it is very difficult to counterfeit the work of each of these signals. But in a virtual reality, scientists can control them. The experiment involved a rat sitting on a ball around which changed filmopodobnye image, creating the impression that a rat sitting on a treadmill. Their sense of space relied on visual cues and signals from the projection of self-propulsion, but they did not have proximal signals of sound and smell.

When Mayank Mehta, a neuroscientist at the University of California, compared the activity of cells, running on a real track, with the activity of cells of rats running on virtual reality, he found a few fun patterns. In the real world, about 45% of the spatial cells of rats were activated by a section of the track. In the virtual reality – only 22%. “Half of the neurons simply silent” – he says.

Moreover, the spatial cells seem to have a completely different relationship to space in a virtual reality, rather than in the real one. Remember, your spatial cells are activated when you are in the corner of the entrance to your house? In the wild rat version of these neurons will be activated in the corner after the start, and after that – when the rat will return to the same point. However, in the virtual reality is something strange. Instead of being activated during the second time returns to the starting point of rat, cells are activated when the rat is a few steps from the opposite end of the track. As well your cells can be activated once, when you leave the house, and the second – when you come to the car. Instead, the location of the rat in the absolute space cells account for its relative position on the treadmill. Meta called it “a disto-code” and noted that in the real world this does not happen ever.

Meta suspects that the differences in the spatial activity of cells due to the lack of virtual reality in the proximal signals. It is believed that the neurons are disabled in the virtual reality, are those that are responsible for the perception of smell, sound textures, followed by conversion to the information on the location of the rat. Given that, when these signals disappear rat cognitive map changes orientation with absolute position relative to the proximal signal may be a key component responsible for mental map the real world.

“While the proximal signals are present, they have the power of veto. They do not allow fire disto-code. ”

Loren Frank, a neurologist from San Francisco, did not participate in the experiment, the experiment impressed Mehta and the conclusions of the last relatively flexible system mapping of the hippocampus. But he warns that the strength of the proximal signals with respect to the visual can be very different in rats and humans.

“We have a tendency to believe that other organisms perceive the world as well as us,” – he said. – “But unlike humans, rats, too damn bad they see.” Instead, they rely on the sense of touch and smell. Hence, the proximal exception signals may affect them to a greater extent than people.

Daniel Dombek, a neuroscientist at Northwestern University in Evanston, and is not associated with the experiment, agrees that the new study “interesting.” He also evinces the assumption that the interest in modeling virtual world for rats will only grow.

In the human world as we are waiting for the appearance of the first fruits of augmented reality .
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Tags: Virtual Reality , Augmented Reality , Brain .

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