European Researcher Creates Virtual Reality For Lab Animals
It is yet to be understood whether mice are afraid of heights or else what is their main concern while reciprocating to the social environment. It is still not very well known how the brains of freely moving animals work in social situations. Well, in this era of virtual reality there’s some hope to dig deeper into the social behavior of the pets.
European researchers at the Vienna Biocenter in Austria are trying to find such answers and obviously would be able to learn the behavior of the animals, possibly. They have created a virtual-reality rig for lab animals and have dubbed it nicely as FreemoVR.
Computer displays have been used to build walls and floors of the virtual set-up, and the researchers have mounted about ten cameras over it to monitor the movement of the animals placed into the rig.
The so-called FreemoVR system displays artificial environment and researchers are testing free moving fruit files, zebrafish and mice into it to learn special learning or respond of the animals to a variety of illusions.
According to the team, the new holodeck set-up for animals could help them in understanding the human genes and brain circuitry better as the animals found the illusions realistic. Fruit flies circled the virtual pillars, the mice avoided heights and the zebrafish circled the periphery of the fishbowl.
Scientists found zebrafish followed the digital fish that was programmed to match the swim direction of the real fish.
The set-up is not suggested to be used for humans as several imperfections can be noticed. One of the main reasons for this is that human system does not create two distinct views for the two eyes unlike the animals.
Details of the study are published in the Nature Methods journal and it reveals the new type of VR system would help scientists in their mouse neurobiology work in future, and mostly for those researchers who are from the pharmaceutical industry.
One of the greatest challenges until now has been to distinguish between lethargy and anxiolytic effects on the mice when a high dose of anti-anxiety drug is given. This usually restricted the drug testing protocols.
The research team was led by Andrew Straw at the University of Freiburg and Kristin Tessmar-Reliable at the MFPL.
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