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Robots Strike Fear in the Hearts of Fish
Date:7/31/2013

BROOKLYN, N.Y., July 31, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The latest in a series of experiments testing the ability of robots to influence live animals shows that bio-inspired robots can not only elicit fear in zebrafish, but that this reaction can be modulated by alcohol. These findings may pave the way for new methodologies for understanding anxiety and other emotions, as well as substances that alter them.

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Maurizio Porfiri, associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at the Polytechnic Institute of New York University (NYU-Poly) and Simone Macri, a collaborator at the Istituto Superiore di Sanita in Rome, Italy, published their findings in PLOS ONE, an international, peer-reviewed, open-access, online publication.

This latest study expands Porfiri and Macri's efforts to determine how bio-inspired robots can be employed as reliable stimuli to elicit reactions from live zebrafish. Previous studies have established that zebrafish show a strong affinity for robotic members designed to swim and appear as one of their own and that this preference can be abolished by exposing the fish to ethanol.

Porfiri and Macri, along with students Valentina Cianca and Tiziana Bartolini, hypothesized that robots could be used to induce fear as well as affinity and designed a robot mimicking the morphology and locomotion pattern of the Indian leaf fish, a natural predator of the zebrafish. In the lab, they simulated a harmless predatory scenario, placing the zebrafish and the robotic Indian leaf fish in separate compartments of a three-section t
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SOURCE Polytechnic Institute of New York University
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