Rat pups and random robots generate similar self-organized and intentional behavior

Christopher J. May*, Jeffrey C. Schank, Sanjay Joshi, Jonathan Tran, I-Esha Scott

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Biorobotic research continually demonstrates that behavior and cognition can be the emergent products of (1) embodied agents that are (2) dynamically embedded within an environment and (3) equipped with simple sensorimotor rules. Thigmotaxis is an orientation response to contact manifested in infant rats by wall following, corner burrowing, and group aggregation. Orientation responses have been long thought to be mediated only by sensory or central processes. Here we show that a random control architecture in a morphologically similar robot embedded in a scaled environment can reproduce thigmotaxic behaviors seen in infant rats. We conclude that (1) and (2) may play a larger role than previously thought in the generation of complex behaviors. (c) 2006 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-66
Number of pages14
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • biorobotics
  • animal behavior
  • Rattus norvegicus
  • randomness
  • dynamical systems
  • embodied cognition

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