Cyborg Cockroaches

Could cyborg insects help us understand science?Cockroaches are tenacious creatures. They can survive a nuclear blast (to an extent – see our blog), live for a month after decapitation, run very fast and protect their eggs in tough sacs. Now they have been turned into cyborgs.

Cockroaches may not be the obvious choice to turn into a cyborg but it is hoped that the insect will help us learn more about how our brain works.  Backyard Brains have developed RoboRoach, your very own pet cyborg which can be controlled by your mobile phone. RoboRoach is the brainchild of neuroscientist Greg Gage who created an app to explore Microstimulation, a technique that stimulates a small population of neurons by passing a small electrical current through a nearby microelectrode.

Researchers may take learnings from the cyborg to understand how to treat patients with Parkinson’s disease and those with cochlear implants to assist hearing. Parkinson’s disease  is a progressive, neurodegenerative disease that belongs to the group of conditions called motor system disorders. Parkinson’s disease cannot yet be cured and the sufferer experiences issues with their breathing, balance, movement and heart function.

So, at last perhaps the cockroach is finally of use to humankind rather than invading our homes and spreading salmonella, dysentery, gastro-enteritis and typhoid.

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