Princeton's David Tank just published a paper in Nature describing how he used the open-source Quake 2 engine to power a VR maze that he ran mice through in order to study their neurons while they moved. My wife, who played Quake on the British national team, wants to teach the mouse to rocket-jump.
Tank's team designed an apparatus in which a mouse, its head firmly held in a metal helmet, walks on the surface of a styrofoam ball. The ball is kept aloft by a jet of air, so that it functions like a multidirectional treadmill. Around it are sensors taken from optical computer mice, which read the ball's movement as the mouse runs.
Those readings were the input for the researchers' virtual reality software -- a modified version of the open source Quake 2 videogame engine, tweaked to project an image on a screen surrounding the mouse. Tank called it "a mini-IMAX theater."
Mice in the study ran through a virtual maze designed in the open source Quake game editor, but rather than earning points or power-ups, they were rewarded with sips of water from a head-side nozzle.
Into the hippocampus of each mouse the researchers inserted a glass capillary just one micron wide at its tip and filled with salt water. Known as a whole-cell patch recorder, it detects electrical currents as they pulse through individual cells.
"It is difficult to overstate the importance of understanding how the dynamics of electrical activity within single neurons is related to firing patterns among collections of neurons that accompany the performance of complex tasks," wrote Douglas Nitz, a University of California at San Diego cognitive scientist, in a commentary accompanying the findings.
SmarterEveryDay’s Destin Sandlin captured this astonishing video of the International Space Station transiting Monday’s solar eclipse. Fast forward to 3:50 for the magical moment. And in case you missed it, below is NASA’s still photo of the ISS transiting the sun at five miles per second.
The psilocybin in magic mushrooms is a potent psychedelic for animals. But what good is the psilocybin for the shrooms? New genetic research from Ohio State University suggests that the psilocybin might act as an insect repellant, protecting the mushrooms. From New Scientist: The gene cluster (linked to psilocybin production) is found in several distantly […]
In elementary school, I knew a boy who would impress us by pulling the legs off a daddy longlegs and popping the body in his mouth. I think he would appreciate this Deep Look video about how daddy longlegs can drop up to three of its limbs when threatened by a predator and still survive.
Top-performing content doesn’t come from pure inspiration. So how do you get the maximum number of eyeballs to see your marketing copy? By analyzing the impact of the keywords within. Serpstat does this all for you. It can monitor up to 200 keywords in your projects, across 10 total domains. They keep track of the […]
Toaster ovens are the perfect appliance for small things like toasted sandwiches and roasted garlic (try it!), but anything more involved usually requires a full-sized conventional oven.However, despite its small size, the Wolfgang Puck Pressure Oven can handle anything from baked pastries to broiled meats. This kitchen appliance has a minimal countertop footprint, and cooks […]