Scientists are creating a “super-intelligent” robot designed to study the brain of a newborn baby and study the developing brain.
Key points:Researchers have created a robotic brain-machine interface to mimic the brain function of the childThe robot is the result of a collaboration with researchers from the University of Queensland and the US Department of DefenseThe project, called ‘BrainGate’, aims to produce a “human-like” robot that could be used in emergency situations.
It will consist of a computer interface and a wearable device that will allow researchers to study brain activity, emotions and other cognitive functions in children.
Dr Paul Rous, who led the project, said it would be an ideal way to study how a child’s brain develops and how they can be influenced by their environment.
“If we can look at a newborn’s brain and say, ‘Well, this is what it does and how it works in a baby’s brain’ and how we can then mimic that, that would allow us to understand how these things develop and why they grow up in a certain way,” he said.
“It would allow you to get some insight into the brain and understand how this brain develops.”
Researchers from the US National Institutes of Health, the University and Queensland University of Technology developed the robot after studying the brain development of the brains of newborn babies.
Dr Rous said it could be useful in situations where it was needed, such as for medical procedures that required close observation.
“The brain can be very difficult to study with normal tools, but we know that if we can do it with this robot, it’s possible to get a lot of insight into how the brain develops,” he told ABC News.
“I think this is a great opportunity to understand the brain in a very natural way.”
BrainGate aims to develop a brain-computer interface to replicate the functioning of the brain during birth.
The device will have a sensor and camera to capture brain activity.
It is also equipped with sensors and microphones to record a child speaking and interacting with the environment.
Dr Brian Kasten, a neuroscientist at the University, said the interface would allow researchers more insight into brain development than is possible with other methods.
“One of the great things about brain research is that it’s a whole lot of different types of research, and we’re very interested in the human brain,” he explained.
“So if we have a way to do a lot more than what’s already available, then that’s a great thing.”
Dr Kastens team hopes to begin working with the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (ANHMRC) in a future project.
He said it was possible the robot could be put to use in medical emergencies.
“We have an Australian Department of Defence [Department of Defence] funded project that aims to have a robot in the hands of a military doctor, so that’s an exciting one,” he added.
“They want to get the robot into the hands and to use it in the field.”
In an emergency situation, I think you’d be surprised how quickly you could learn something about a child.
“What I think we can see with this is the potential to actually study the human mind and to understand why certain things happen and why other things do.”