Jeff Krichmar, professor of cognitive science at the University of California, Irvine is experimenting with building neurotic robots that exhibit signs of obsessive-compulsive disorder, just like humans, or are afraid of open spaces.

He is doing this by making a robot act like a mouse in a cage.
    
"We're trying to make the robot brain more like human brain. The brain has incredibly flexibility and adaptability. If you look at any artificial system, it's far more brittle than biology," Krichmar said.
    
"If you put a rodent in a room that is open and unfamiliar, it will hug the walls," Krichmar said.

"It will hide until it becomes comfortable, then it will move across the room. It will wait until it feels comfortable. We did that with a robot and made it so it was so anxious it would never cross the room," he said.
    
Krichmar's team uses a rodent model and varying levels of dopamine and serotonin, the two brain hormones that control pleasure centers and well-being, a channel reported.
    
The effects of the chemicals on the rodent are then replicated in the robot's software, Krichmar said.

"We're mimicking the action of the chemicals with equations," he said.

"We are doing mathematical models of brain or cognitive system, then putting that in software and it becomes the controller for the robot," he added.
    
Krichmar believes that making a robot exhibit fear or caution might help make it better decisions. A search-and-rescue drone, for example, might stay put during foul weather instead of taking a risk to complete its mission.

The research was presented at the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation in Hong Kong.

(Agencies)

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