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Section of Neuroelectronic SystemsDepartment of Neurosurgery

How Realistic is Virtual Reality for Rats ? Really ?

Project 6

It is now well established that primates, including humans, can interpret interactive 2-D projections in order to navigate in virtual environments. The discovery in 2005 that also rodents have this ability opened the path to expanded animal research exploring the physiology of the underlying mechanisms. Subsequent studies have focused on defining the cellular limits to these mechanisms using electrophysiology recordings.

virtual reality for rats?

Virtual environment testing is usually "one-dimensional" in nature, in that only visual (or sometimes auditory) stimuli are used to guide behavioral response. Rodents have relatively poor vision and are thus more reliant on propriosensory and olfactory cues for navigation. Therefore, it is appropriate to ask the question "How relevant or representative of the real world are the results of virtual reality studies in rodents?".

We are developing a virtual reality system for freely moving rats, which will utilize olfactory and propriosensory simulation in addition to the visual background cues. The basic form will be a large sphere, which is controlled by three independent unidirectional motors (similar to the diagram right). Information as to the rat’s location will be provided using an in-house developed tracking system. This system will provide the basis for rodent behavior comparisons of between physical and virtual reality settings.

How Realistic is Virtual Reality for Rats ? Really ? (this page as pdf file)

Section of Neuroelectronic Systems

Prof. Dr. rer.nat. Ulrich G. Hofmann
Peter-Osypka-Professor for Neuroelectronic Systems

University Medical Center Freiburg
Department of Neurosurgery
Engesserstr. #4, 5th floor
D-79108 Freiburg
Phone: +49(0)761 270 50076
E-Mail: ulrich.hofmann@uniklinik-freiburg.de