The cyborg maze was created by Yu Y et al. (2016), in an experiment carried out to demonstrate how rat cyborgs can expedite the maze escape task with the integration of machine intelligence.
They were asked to find their way from a constant entrance to a constant exit in fourteen diverse mazes.
The experimental results with six rats and their intelligence-augmented rat cyborgs showed that rat cyborgs have the best performance in escaping from mazes.
Mazeengineers offers the cyborg maze for both mice and rats. Custom coloring and customization are available upon request.
Price & Dimensions
- Width: 10cm
- Length: 10cm
- Height: 10cm
- Width: 15cm
- Length: 15cm
- Height: 15cm
The Cyborg Maze is used to study the spatial navigation abilities of rodent cyborgs. Rodent cyborgs are rodents with a pair of electrodes implanted in their bilateral medial forebrain bundles (MFB) and another pair of electrodes implanted into the whisker barrel fields of their left and right somatosensory cortices (SI). The rodent cyborgs carry a backpack micro-stimulator that provides electric stimuli to their brains through the electrodes to help them solve the maze. The electric stimuli are generated by computer software, which generates algorithms to find the best path to the target position via inputs received from a video camera. Essentially, as a rodent cyborg navigates the maze, the computer sends left, right, and forward stimuli to the subject’s backpack via Bluetooth. The left and right stimuli are provided through SI stimulation, which makes the subject feel like its whiskers are touching a barrier on the corresponding side, while the forward cue is given through MFB stimulation.
The Cyborg Maze is an acrylic maze that comprises 10 × 10 unit squares in which each unit square measures 15 cm × 15 cm. The maze walls are 15 cm in height, which can be removed and repositioned, allowing the maze to have several different configurations. The starting position of the maze is at the maze’s bottom-left cell, while the target position is located at the top-right cell. During the task, the subject has to find the path that leads to the target cell from the starting cell. Since it is an exploratory-based task, experimenters can use rewards such as water when the subject reaches the target cell. Additionally, MFB stimulation can also be delivered as a reward since it excites rodents by increasing the levels of dopamine in their brains. Furthermore, olfactory cues can also be incorporated into the maze task to aid navigation.
Researchers can utilize the Cyborg Maze to study cyborg intelligence, which combines biological intelligence and machine intelligence. Additionally, it can be used in comparative studies for examining differences in rodent navigation with and without the aid of machine intelligence. The Cyborg Maze can also be applied in experiments investigating spatial navigation and learning in rodent models of disease. Another maze that can be used to investigate spatial cognition in rodents is the Robotic Cylindrical Maze.
Apparatus and Equipment
The Cyborg Maze is made of acrylic. The maze walls measure 15 cm in height, and the outside walls enclose the entire maze. The maze comprises 10 × 10 unit squares in which each unit square measures 15 cm × 15 cm. The maze is equipped with a perspex top to prevent the subjects from climbing out of the maze and escaping. The maze’s bottom-left cell contains the starting point, while its top-right cell contains the target position. The ability to insert or remove each cell’s four walls is a notable feature of this maze. Therefore, the maze layout can be modified according to experimental needs, and the experimenter can set different routes from the starting point to the target position. Olfactory cues and a reward such as water can be placed on the target position.
The subjects can be tracked using a video camera, and their performance can be sent to computer software, which can generate algorithms to find the best path for the subject to navigate the maze.
Thoroughly clean the maze after every trial to eliminate olfactory cues from previous trials. Apply appropriate lighting to the maze. The Noldus EthoVision XT, a video-tracking system, can be used to track the subject’s movements and activity during the task.
Train the subjects (without them being rats cyborgs) on the navigation task to turn right in response to a right stimulus, turn left in response to a left stimulus, and move forward in response to a forward stimulus.
Cyborg Maze Training
Cyborg Maze Training is conducted on rodent cyborgs. During training, the subjects are required to learn to find a path from a constant starting position to the constant target position. Double rewards, such as water reward and electric reward of medial forebrain bundle (MFB) stimulation, can be used to accelerate the training process. Furthermore, olfactory cues can also be placed in the target cells to activate the subject’s odor tracking abilities.
Deprive the subjects of water for 24 hours after pre-training and then allow them to proceed to the training task. Begin training by placing a rodent cyborg in the constant starting cell and allowing it to find a path to the target cell. Once the subject arrives at the target cell, allow it to drink a drop of water and deliver five consecutive MFB rewards. Remove the subject from the maze.
Allow each rodent cyborg only to perform only trial per maze layout. After all the subjects finish training on one layout, begin training on the next maze configuration. Train the subjects on three to five random maze layouts per day for seven consecutive days.
Cyborg Maze Task
Conduct trials in the same manner as training; however, allow the computer to aid them in their navigation. Conduct trials using fourteen maze configurations in which each rat solves the maze on each configuration only once before moving to the next configuration.
Investigation of Rat Cyborgs Maze Solving Abilities
Yu et al. (2016) investigated rat cyborgs’ maze-solving abilities using the Cyborg Maze. Six adult Sprague Dawley rats were used in the study. The rats were first trained in a navigation task in which they responded to left, right, and forward stimuli by turning left, right, and ahead. They were then trained on the Cyborg Maze, where they had to find a path from a constant starting position to a constant target position. Double rewards, including six mL of water and five consecutive MFB rewards, were given once the subject reached the target position. Additionally, a box of peanut butter was placed in the target cell as an olfactory cue. The training lasted for seven consecutive days in which each subject was trained on fourteen maze layouts. After training, testing was conducted, which was similar to the training procedure. The subjects were then tested again on the Cyborg Maze with the assistance of a computer via its backpack stimulator, which made it a rat cyborg. The subjects’ steps, coverage rates, and time spent solving the maze were compared between the rat cyborgs and when they had no computer assistance. It was observed that when the subjects lacked computer assistance, they explored dead roads, revisited cells, and also returned to the starting cell. The number of steps taken to find the target cell by the cyborg rats was less than those of the regular rats. Moreover, the steps taken by the cyborg rats were comparable to those of the computer. Similarly, the coverage rates of each rat cyborg were less than the regular rats. The cyborg rats also spent less time solving the maze than regular rats.
The following parameters can be observed using the Cyborg Maze:
- The number of steps taken for the subject to reach the target cell
- The number of cells the subject visited
- The number of cells the subject revisited
- The number of times the subject reached a dead road
- The time taken for the subject to reach the target cell
- The amount of the maze the subject covered to reach the target cell
Strengths and Limitations
The Cyborg Maze allows researchers to study cyborg intelligence in rodents. However, the maze can also be utilized for studying spatial navigation and learning in rodents. The maze’s walls are removable, allowing rodents’ navigation abilities to be tested using several maze configurations. Since the electrode implants, rodent backpack stimulator, and computer software provide the subject with the stimuli to navigate and solve the maze, experimenter intervention during task performance is not required. However, the experimenter can also choose to manually send electric stimuli to the backpack stimulator without using the computer software. However, a limitation to this manual method is that an experienced person is required to train the rodent cyborg.
- The Cyborg Maze is used to study the spatial navigation abilities of rodent cyborgs.
- The Cyborg Maze is an acrylic maze with 10 × 10 unit squares, removable inside walls, and a perspex top.
- The maze layout can be modified according to experimental needs, and the experimenter can set different routes from the starting position to the target position.
- The rodent cyborgs carry a backpack micro-stimulator that provides electric stimuli to their brains through the electrodes to help them solve the maze through algorithms generated by computer software.
- The Cyborg Maze can be utilized for studying cyborg intelligence in rodents. However, it can also be used for spatial navigation and learning experiments for other experimental needs.
- Yu, Y., Pan, G., Gong, Y., Xu, K., Zheng, N., Hua, W., Zheng, X., & Wu, Z. (2016). Intelligence-Augmented Rat Cyborgs in Maze Solving. PloS one, 11(2), e0147754. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0147754
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