Neuroscience and Neurorobotics

These two sciences are closely related one to another. Neurorobots refer to robots manufactured based on some theories of neuroscience. Before, robots were not so advanced, and most of us didn’t associate the operating system of a robot to the neural system of living creatures, especially that of humains. In fact, the science of neurorobotic is a rather new science. It appeared only in the late 1980s( and in Japan).

So, what does it mean that a robot has an operating system like the neural system of a living creature? Let’s start with what is a living creature. This is a really difficult question and there are already numerous articles on it. The most famous is perhaps the book,’what is life?’ by Erwin Schrodinger. Here I will not, of course, try to address this problem, but just try to recall some important characters of a living creature. In what situation can we say that a thing is living, or alive? Interaction. Indeed, when we face an object and if the object can finish some complex interaction with us, then we tend to think that this object seems alive. Of course, this is not at all rigorous. But it reflects some characters of a living creature. Interaction really is something essential in our humain society. If we talk to someone, but he or she never responds or interact, most of us will not feel comfortable. And we would say that he or she is like a machine, emotionless. So, emotion, in some sense, is based on interaction.

But recall that, when we humain beings started to create robots, we didn’t think that they should be interactive. They should just receive the inputs and return us the outputs. This is a very basic level. Yet, our humains’ imaginations are limitless. Soon, we want that these machines interact with us. This step is great. But the problem is that, it is too difficult.

Neurorobotic is thus created to address this problem. In neuroscience, we propose various theories about how the neural system works(not only about our humain neural system, but also some other creatures). Then neurorobotics will accordingly propose some models and build out some robots based on these models, and eventually based on these theories. And thereafter, we instruct these robots to do various experiments to see if they have satisfying performances. This, in return, gives feedbacks on the validity of the theory that is based on.

So, in some sense, neuroscience and neurorobotic are two sciences interacting one with the other. For the present, neurorobotic is a very active field of research, scientists from various fields, neuroscience, engineering science, artificiel intelligence, to name a few, come work in this newly-born area.