Virtual reality goggles for mice just might be the strangest VR gadget yet, but researchers at Northwestern University have found that they could be quite useful in the right setting. When placed on a mouse and given a choice to either run on a treadmill or be given a treat reward, they often choose the former.
Research animals are typically confined to playing on a machine, whereas these virtual reality goggles provide a faux natural setting. Experiments have been conducted with both visual and olfactory reality going on simultaneously, rewarding behavior based on one sensory modality, but not the other. They found that mice pay close attention to the sensory modality offering rewards and begin to treat the other one as a distractor.
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We put a nosecone on the mouse and flowed air in which we mixed different odors, all in a fast and controlled way. We proved that mice are able to navigate by olfactory cues alone, something that humans can’t do. It’s not as detailed as in the movie the ‘Matrix,’ but it’s good enough for experiments,” said Daniel Dombeck, Professor at Northwestern University.