Did You Know: Cockroaches Don’t Use Their Brains to Keep Balance?

Neither did we, or anyone else, until the recent release of a study conducted by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley.

It turns out that the cockroach’s ability to keep upright has nothing to do with the neural makeup of their brains, as it does in most other creatures, but rather relies on the physical architecture of their legs! That’s right; it’s the shape of the cockroach leg that allows it to keep the cockroach upright. Furthermore, a cockroach can navigate throughout its surroundings WITHOUT THINKING.

I don’t know about you, but this knowledge makes them even creepier.

As ABC Science points out, this knowledge goes beyond simply making our nightmares more nightmarish. The understanding of cockroach mobility might help robotics engineers develop more efficient robots: “one of the recurring challenges of designing a mobile robot is writing an algorithm that keeps it from falling over.” By bypassing the need for a robot “brain” and this complex balance algorithm, building a feasible self-reliant robot may become reality….wait, I’ve seen this movie. STOP THE ROBOT PROGRAM!

ABS Science also mentions the potential for this knowledge to help humans, too. Human mobility—how we walk upright—is still a bit of a mystery. Despite how easy our two-legged motion is, the neural processes that allow us that motion are quite complex. Understanding how the architecture of a leg on a cockroach may potentially help us to develop more reliable prosthetics and perhaps better therapies for people with brain injuries. So, I guess, CONTINUE THE ROBOT PROGRAM!

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, March 20th, 2013 at 11:07 am and is filed under For Fun. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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