SF

Synthetic Forager Project Logo synthetic forager - to build a robotic platform inspired by foraging rats

The single overarching goal of the SF consortium is to identify the neuronal, cognitive and behavioral principles underlying optimal foraging in rodents and to implement these principles in a real-world foraging artefact or the Synthetic Forager (SF.01). SF.01 constitutes a novel biologically based cognitive technology for autonomous exploration and foraging in real-world man-made indoor and outdoor environments. SF exploits our growing understanding of exploration and foraging behavior in rodents, advances current theories of the neuronal and behavioral organization of foraging and transfers this understanding towards the construction of novel real-world synthetic cognitive technologies.

The behavior and neurophysiology of foraging will be studied in rodents behaving in automatically controlled multi-modal environments. The physical features of these environments can be fully controlled in real-time in relation to the behavioral and/or physiological state of the animal using an advanced experimental technology developed by the consortium. The overall integration of the perceptual, cognitive and behavioral control systems of SF will be accomplished using a well established robot based cognitive architecture, called Distributed Adaptive Control (DAC) further informed by the formal analysis of rodent foraging. The perceptual, cognitive and behavioral control systems of SF will be based on statistical analysis and detailed game theoretic models of the behavioral and neurophysiological data. The SF control systems are validated against the behavioral and physiological data. The SF phenotype comprises a high-mobility robotic platform equipped with visual, auditory, olfactory and tactile sensors. The SF will be evaluated in a number of stringent benchmarks ranging from robot equivalents of rodent foraging tasks to simulated de-mining.

The role of g.tec in SF is to develop technology for physiological data acquisition and real-time analysis ranging from signals from the brain to the heart. The physiological analysis system is coupled in real-time with both an optical tracking system (to monitor the current position of animals and objects) and a robot that can present different stimuli to the animals.

   

Although the goal of the project is to demonstrate the SF technology for autonomous exploration and foraging, we expect that the approach and technologies developed in SF will have long-term implications to a number of other application areas including: cleaning robots, search and rescue systems, terrestrial and planetary exploration, delivery systems, autonomous transportation systems, military intelligence and battle field information control systems, environmental monitoring, internet information analysis and retrieval, information and communication networks and humanitarian de-mining.


Videos

Real-time analysis of hippocampal place cells for position detection  

Place cells in the hippocampus code position. The video shows a rat that enters its place field and therefore the position neurons are activated. If the spike frequency goes above 10 Hz than a LED is switch on. As soon as the rat exits its place field the LED is switched off again. Source: www.gtec.at

Real-time spike sorting of hippocampal place cells 

Rats foraging in open field environments are tracked in dark and light conditions. Additionally spike activity is recorded from the hippocampus. After data acquisition spikes are sorted to identify single neurons. Finally the real-time model is able to sort the spikes. Source: www.gtec.at

Smart objects for automation of real-time experiments with rats 

Smart objects are controlled from a real-time biosignal analysis software package developed by g.tec. Depending on the spiking activity, EEG or ECG activity the smart objects can move around, play sounds, drop food pellets and show pictures to a rat. Source: www.gtec.at

Homebase experiment with smart object and rats 

The video shows a homebase experiment designed by Matti Mintz, TAU, Israel. Source: www.gtec.at

EEG theta modulation with speed and ECG in rats 

The theta rhythm in rats is modulated with speed. The video show the acquisition of EEG and ECG data of a moving rat. If the rat increases its speed theta activity gets higher. Source: www.gtec.at

Rats learn to discriminate different textiles 

Rats were trained to discriminate between two textures (rough and smooth) which are randomly presented in a central nose-poke. Source: IDIBAPS, Spain.

ECG recordings of a rat in open field 

The ECG of rats is recorded while moving around in an open field in order to calculate heart-rate and heart-rate variability. Source: IDIBAPS, Spain.

SPECS VideoLecture 1a & 1b 

Project leader Paul Verschure gives a main introduction on the cognitive architecture modeling of rodent foraging behavior. Lecture 1 of 6 lectures by SPECS members (Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona) on their contributions to the Synthetic Forager project.

SPECS VideoLecture 2a & 2b 

Martí Sanchez Fibla discusses allostatic control for robot behavior regulation. Lecture 2 of 6 lectures by SPECS members (Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona) on their contributions to the Synthetic Forager project.

SPECS VideoLecture 3a & 3b 

Armin Duff discusses predictive perceptual subspace learning. Lecture 3 of 6 lectures by SPECS members (Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona) on their contributions to the Synthetic Forager project.

SPECS VideoLecture 4a & 4b 

Encarni Marcos talks about the neural substrate underlying order and interval representations in sequential tasks. Lecture 4 of 6 lectures by SPECS members (Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona) on their contributions to the Synthetic Forager project.

SPECS VideoLecture 5a & 5b 

Andre Luvizotto discusses the representation of the real world and the role of the temporal population in this. Lecture 5 of 6 lectures by SPECS members (Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona) on their contributions to the Synthetic Forager project.

SF SPECS VideoLecture 6a & 6b 

Cesar Costa worked on sensori-motor couplets, the hippocampus, and rate remapping. Paul Verschure presents his work in this talk. Lecture 6 of 6 lectures by SPECS members (Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona) on their contributions to the Synthetic Forager project.

SfN Spike and ECoG Workshop g.tec 

Spike and ECoG workshop given at the Neuroscience conference in San Diego, November 2010. Recording techniques for spikes and ECoG including electrodes, headstages, biosignal amplifiers and real-time analysis software are explained by Christoph Guger, g.tec medical engineering GmbH. Source: g.tec, www.gtec.at

 
 

Brain Formula 

Peter König, Institute of Cognitive Science, Osnabrück

 
 

TAU Experiment 1 Home base behavior  

Source: http://www.tau.ac.il/

TAU Experiment 2 Modulation of home base behavior 

Source: http://www.tau.ac.il/

TAU Experiment 3 Hippocampal theta rhythm during foraging in complex maze 

Source: http://www.tau.ac.il/

TAU Experiment 4 Valence influence on home base behavior in dynamic environment 

Source: http://www.tau.ac.il/