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Quake Games Science

Scientists Use Quake 2 To Study the Brains of Mice 185

Posted by Soulskill
from the god-help-us-if-they-learn-how-to-rocket-jump dept.
An anonymous reader writes "In this week's issue of Nature, scientists from Princeton University trained mice to navigate around a virtual environment using a setup that resembles a combination of a giant trackball and a mini-iMax theater displaying a virtual world rendered using a modified version of the Quake 2 open source game engine. (Here's the academic paper, subscription required.) They hold the mouse's head still atop a giant trackball, which the mouse turns by running. The scientists use the rotations to move the mouse around in the virtual environment, and when he reaches certain places, he gets a reward. Because they are able to hold the head still, they can stick microscopic glass electrodes into individual neurons in the hippocampus of this mouse as it 'navigates.' They find the neural activity that resembles activity during real life navigation, and learned new things about the inputs and computations that are going on inside these neurons, which weren't known before. No word as of yet whether the scientists plan on giving the mice control of the gun. Wonder whether John Carmack ever envisioned this when he opened up the Quake code?"
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Scientists Use Quake 2 To Study the Brains of Mice

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  • mice or men (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ZenDragon (1205104) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @02:20PM (#29760371)
    I invision an army of mice farming gold in World of Warcraft, we could do it even cheaper than the Chinese!
  • Re:FP (Score:2, Insightful)

    by hitnrunrambler (1401521) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @02:21PM (#29760389)

    Yo Dawg, I heard you liked idiot replies, so here's an idiot reply for your idiot reply!

  • Free information (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dripdry (1062282) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @02:24PM (#29760433) Journal

    Someone is likely to say it, so I will:

    This is what happens when you have a free flow of information. Carmack got well paid for Quake 2 then opened the source up (eventually). If more people/institutions/corps did this it seems there would not only be more hearts and flowers (for all the open source hippies) but there would be MORE technology we could patent! The ability to make MORE money!

    If I have 2 innovative products and I decide to open them up to general use, and at least 1 new idea comes from that, someone out there will create something with it and hopefully create a net gain for the system as a whole in the long run.

    I know people are selfish, but for Science's sake, open up your information already! The economy is dying a slow, painful death (though the market might refute that this week), wouldn't the SOLUTION in The States be to repeal some copyright laws and let information flow freely so as to foster innovation like this? Even if it's a mouse on a ball in a hall at the mall, I have to believe only good could come from opening things up a bit more.

  • by Korin43 (881732) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @02:31PM (#29760521) Homepage
    They'd discover that the total size of all bittorrent swarms has suddenly decreased ;)
  • by earthbound kid (859282) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @04:40PM (#29762019) Homepage

    Helping humanity, needlessly torturing mice.

    Seriously, what did they really learn from this? The benefit to humanity here is disproportionately less than the cruelty involved. It just seems like an excuse to play around with Quake because "dude, wouldn't it be cool if we could train our mice to play?" I wouldn't let anyone involved in this kind of experiment date my sister.

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