Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Neural Enhanced Animals as a Tool in Espionage

CIA recruited cat to bug Russians,
by Charlotte Edwardes, Telegraph Media Group Limited 2008,
THE CIA tried to uncover the Kremlin's deepest secrets during the 1960s by turning cats into walking bugging devices, recently declassified documents show. In one experiment during the Cold War a cat, dubbed Acoustic Kitty, was wired up for use as an eavesdropping platform. It was hoped that the animal - which was surgically altered to accommodate transmitting and control devices - could listen to secret conversations from window sills, park benches or dustbins. By coincidence, in 1966, a British film called Spy With a Cold Nose featured a dog wired up to eavesdrop on the Russians.

Auditory Information from Subcortical Electrical Stimulation in Cats,
by Philip C. Nieder and William D. Neff, Science 31 March 1961 Vol. 133. no. 3457, pp. 1010 - 1011DOI: 10.1126/science.133.3457.1010. Laboratory of Physiological Psychology, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois. Animals trained to respond to sound stimuli were found to perform the learned response when they were electrically stimulated through electrodes chronically implanted in subcortical structures of the auditory pathway. Other animals trained to respond to electrical stimulation of subcortical auditory structures showed differential transfer effects depending on the positions of the stimulating electrodes.

MI5 records reveal gerbil spycatcher plan;
BBC News UK, Saturday, 30 June, 2001
Security Service MI5 once planned to recruit a team of specially-trained gerbils as a secret weapon to sniff out spies, it has been revealed. The animals were to help interrogate suspects because they could use their acute sense of smell to detect a rise in adrenalin - the chemical released in sweat when people feel under stress.

Here come the ratbots,
by Dr David Whitehouse, BBC News Online science editor, Wednesday, 1 May, 2002,
Guided rats controlled through implants in their brains could one day be used to search for landmines or buried victims of earthquakes, scientists say. The research team is led by Dr Sanjiv Talwar, of the State University of New York, US.

A multi-channel telemetry system for brain microstimulation in freely roaming animals.,
by Shaohua Xua Sanjiv K. Talwar Emerson S. Hawley Lei Li John K. Chapin,
Journal of Neuroscience Methods 12 Sept. 2003
Pioneering work on telestimulation devices began in the 1930s (Light and Chaffee, 1934; Loucks, 1934), and continued for many years thereafter (Delgado et al., 1975; Gengerelli, 1961; Greer and Riggle, 1957; Lafferty and Farrell, 1949; Warner et al., 1968). These devices have limitations, however, that tend to prevent them from fulfilling the requirements of modern neurophysiological investigations: (1) Most provided only a single channel of stimulation allowing only one brain site to be excited at a time. (2) The fidelity of the transmission was usually poor. For example, the stimulus intensity tended to be dependent on the amplitude of the received analog signal, which varies with transmission fidelity. (3) Even though investigators put much effort into reducing the size and weight of the receiver that was implanted or mounted on the animal, the excessive size and weight of the stimulus generators and transmitters, plus the high power required to maintain transmission fidelity, confined the use only to specific laboratory locations. (4) Most of the systems generated mono-phasic pulses, which can cause electrolytic tissue injury and electrode damage (Lilly, 1961). This is less desirable than modern devices that use charge-balanced biphasic pulses. Little progress has been made over the last two decades in developing miniaturized multi-channel brain tele-stimulation devices for small animal research. Here, we describe the development of a novel miniaturized digital telestimulation system that has enabled us to remotely deliver stimulation to multiple brain sites of freely moving animals (rats).

Sci/Tech: Computer uses cat's brain to see,
Scientists have literally seen the world through cat's eyes,
by Dr David Whitehouse, BBC News Science, Oct 8, 1999 Published at 20:57 GMT 21:57 UK
According to a paper published in the Journal of Neuroscience, Garrett Stanley, Yang Dang and Fei Li, from the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California, Berkeley, have been able to "reconstruct natural scenes with recognizable moving objects". The researchers attached electrodes to 177 cells in the so-called thalamus region of the cat's brain and monitored their activity.

Reconstruction of Natural Scenes from Ensemble Responses in the Lateral Geniculate Nucleus.,
by Garrett B. Stanley, Fei F. Li, and Yang Dan , Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, Division of Neurobiology, University of California, Berkeley, California 94720, The Journal of Neuroscience, September 15, 1999, 19 ( 18 ) :pp. 8036-8042
A major challenge in studying sensory processing is to understand the meaning of the neural messages encoded in the spiking activity of neurons. From the recorded responses in a sensory circuit, what information can we extract about the outside world? Here we used a linear decoding technique to reconstruct spatiotemporal visual inputs from ensemble responses in the lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN) of the cat. From the activity of 177 cells, we have reconstructed natural scenes with recognizable moving objects. The quality of reconstruction depends on the number of cells. For each point in space, the quality of reconstruction begins to saturate at six to eight pairs of on and off cells, approaching the estimated coverage factor in the LGN of the cat. Thus, complex visual inputs can be reconstructed with a simple decoding algorithm, and these analyses provide a basis for understanding ensemble coding in the early visual pathway.

Seeing through sound: dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) perceive the spatial structure of objects through echolocation.
Herman LM, Pack AA, Hoffmann-Kuhnt M. J Comp Psychol. 1998 Sep;112(3):292-305.
Psychology Department, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, USA. lherman@hawaii.edu
Experiment 1 tested a dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) for cross-modal recognition of 25 unique pairings of 8 familiar, complexly shaped objects, using the senses of echolocation and vision. Cross-modal recognition was errorless or nearly so for 24 of the 25 pairings under both visual to echoic matching (V-E) and echoic to visual matching (E-V). First-trial recognition occurred for 20 pairings under V-E and for 24 under E-V. Echoic decision time under V-E averaged only 1.88 s. Experiment 2 tested 4 new pairs of objects for 24 trials of V-E and 24 trials of E-V without any prior exposure of these objects. Two pairs yielded performance significantly above chance in both V-E and E-V. Also, the dolphin matched correctly on 7 of 8 1st trials with these pairs. The results support a capacity for direct echoic perception of object shape by this species and demonstrate that prior object exposure is not required for spontaneous cross-modal recognition.
PMID: 9770316 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Chinese develop remote-controlled pigeons, A flying world first,
by Lester Haines, The Register, Published Tuesday 27th February 2007 11:18 GMT
Xinhua news agency explained today that boffins at the Robot Engineering Technology Research Center at Shandong University of Science and Technology were able to "command [the pigeons] to fly right or left or up or down. It elaborated: "The implants stimulate different areas of the pigeon's brain according to signals sent by the scientists via computer, and force the bird to comply with their commands."

Squirrel 'spies' seized, The Times of India, 16 Jul 2007, 0000 hrs IST,
AGENCIES Police in Iran are reported to have taken 14 squirrels into custody - because they are suspected of spying. The rodents were found near the Iranian border allegedly equipped with eavesdropping devices, according to Sky News . Reports said that the squirrels were kitted out by foreign intelligence services - were weeks ago by police officers. But if true, this would not be the first time animals have been used to spy.

http://stinet.dtic.mil/stinet/jsp/advanced-tr.jsp (search: electronarcosis)
Title: Shark Dart Electronic Circuit.
AD Number: AD0164212 Corporate Author: DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY WASHINGTON D C
Personal Author: Blanc,Clarence G. Report Date: December 14, 1971 Media: 4 Pages(s)
21 - JOURNAL ARTICLES ANNOUNCEMENT ONLY Report Classification: (Not Available).
Source Code: 110050 From the collection: Technical Reports.
Abstract: The present invention is directed to providing a circuit for inducing electronarcosis in a marine predator and includes a source of DC power connected to a switching inverter. An astable multivibrator, having a predetermined switching rate, sequentially completes the switching inverter circuit, via a switching transistor, serially-connected in the inverter's feedback loops, to provide a partial duty-cycle conserving battery power and prolonging the effective life of the shark dart.

the Navy Marine Mammal Program (NMMP).
Everyone is familiar with security patrol dogs. You may even know that because of their exceptionally keen sense of smell, dogs like beagles are also used to detect drugs and bombs, or land mines. But just as the dog's keen sense of smell makes it ideal for detecting land mines, the U.S. Navy has found that the biological sonar of dolphins, called echolocation, makes them uniquely effective at locating sea mines so they can be avoided or removed. Other marine mammals like the California sea lion also have demonstrated the ability to mark and retrieve objects for the Navy in the ocean. In fact, marine mammals are so important to the Navy that there is an entire program dedicated to studying, training, and deploying them. It is appropriately called the Navy Marine Mammal Program (NMMP).

  • Object Recovery System: Initially called Quick Find, this system first demonstrated its capabilities when it recovered an ASROC (Anti Submarine Rocket) MK 17 from 180 feet of water in November of 1970. The MK 5 MMS became operational in 1975 and uses California sea lions to locate and attach recovery hardware to underwater objects such as practice mines. Some of these mines are equipped with a device called a pinger that sends out a beeping sound to help the sea lion locate them. For this, the sea lion may have to dive to depths of 500 feet or more. At the recovery site, the sea lion is sent over the side and given a bite plate to which an attachment device is mounted. The sea lion locates the object by using its exceptional hearing to locate the pinger attached to the shape. A strong line tied to the bite plate is payed out from the boat as the sea lion swims down to the object and attaches the device. To be sure the connection is good, the sea lion tests it by pulling back on it a few times. The sea lion then releases the bite plate and returns to the boat for a well-deserved reward of fish while a crane is used to pull the object off the bottom.
  • Force Protection: Dolphins and sea lions cannot be outmatched as sentries in the water. In the MK 6 MMS, dolphins and sea lions effectively protect piers, ships, harbors, and anchorages against unauthorized swimmers, SCUBA divers, closed-circuit divers, and swimmer delivery vehicles. MK 6 MMS was first operationally deployed with dolphins during the Vietnam War from 1971 to 1972 and Bahrain from 1986 to 1987. MK 6 has now been expanded to include specially trained sea lions to locate water-borne intruders and suspicious objects near piers and ships that pose a possible threat to military forces in the area. They have been shown to be effective under and around ships, piers, and in open water. The sea lions were deployed to Bahrain as part of the effort to support missions under Operation Enduring Freedom.
  • Bioacoustics: Dolphins have highly sophisticated, natural sonar (biosonar) that allows them to detect objects in the most complex of acoustic environments. By emitting broadband high frequency clicks and listening to the echoes of the clicks as they bounce off objects, dolphins can acoustically "see" their aquatic environment in amazing detail. The dolphin's biosonar system has yet to be matched by any manufactured device. After decades of conducting research into the dolphin's biosonar capabilities (research that has literally defined what we do know about dolphin biosonar), the NMMP's Biosonar Program has constructed the world's first biomimetic (think bio mimic) sonar to try to emulate dolphin sonar and incorporate search strategies that are specifically effective in the noisy near shore environment.Hearing: The potential effects of anthropogenic (human-generated) sound on marine mammals have gained the attention of lawmakers, the military, and conservation groups. How much noise is too much? The NMMP's scientists and animals are helping to answer that question by defining acoustic safety criteria: first, to ensure the safety of Navy animals and second, to provide scientific data that can be applied to marine mammals in the wild.

SSC San Diego TD 627 Revision D, Annotated Bibliography of Publications from the U.S. Navy's Marine Mammal Program, May 1998, 2. NEURAL NETWORKS
Example: A biomimetic neural network was used to model a bottlenose dolphin's ability to recognize aspect-dependent targets. Researchers used echo trains recorded during the dolphin trials to train an Integrator Gateway Network (IGN) to discriminate among the targets using echo spectra. The dolphin and the IGN learned to recognize geometric targets, even though orientation could vary. Results support the notion that ensonified underwater objects with complex shapes and echoes may be reliably classified using neural network architectures that are motivated through understanding of dolphin echolocation signals and performance.

Using a biomimetric neural net to model dolphin echolocation,
by Helweg, D.A.; Roitblat, H.L.; Nachtigall, P.E., 1993. Proceedings.,
First New Zealand International Two-Stream Conference on Artificial Neural Networks and Expert Systems, Volume , Issue , 24-26 Nov 1993 Page(s):247 - 251, DOI=10.1109/ANNES.1993.323032
Summary: A biomimetic neural network was used to model the ability of a bottle nosed dolphin to recognize aspect-dependent geometric objects. Each echo train was recorded and an Integrator Gateway Network (IGN) was trained to discriminate among the objects using spectra of the object echoes. The IGN classifies objects using an average-like sum of the spectra from successive echoes. However, combining echoes may reduce classification accuracy if the spectra vary from echo to echo. The dolphin and the IGN learned to recognize the geometric objects, even though orientation was free to vary. The process of recognition using cumulated echoes was robust with respect to nonstationary raw input. The results were interpreted as evidence for the formation of aspect-independent representations of the objects

US 'funding stealth shark project',
The US Defence Department is funding research into neural implants with the ultimate hope of turning sharks into "stealth spies" capable of gliding undetected through the ocean, the British weekly New Scientist says. "The Pentagon hopes to exploit sharks' natural ability to glide quietly through the water, sense delicate electrical gradients and follow chemical trails," says the report, carried in next Saturday's New Scientist.

Stealth sharks to patrol the high seas
by Susan Brown, From New Scientist Print Edition, 01 March 2006,
The Pentagon hopes to exploit sharks' natural ability to glide quietly through the water, sense delicate electrical gradients and follow chemical trails. By remotely guiding the sharks' movements, they hope to transform the animals into stealth spies, perhaps capable of following vessels without being spotted. The project, funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), based in Arlington, Virginia, was presented at the Ocean Sciences Meeting in Honolulu, Hawaii, last week.

Military Plans Cyborg Sharks,
by Bill Christensen, posted: 07 March 2006 06:34 am ET
Given that sharks have senses that humans don't have (like the ability to sense electromagnetic fields), it could open up some interesting uses. The implant consists of multi-channel neural ensemble readers and stimulators, diverse controllers and sensors. In addition, the DARPA researchers want to use their setup to detect and decipher the neural patterns that correspond to shark activities like sensing an ocean current, a particular scent in the water or an electrical field. If they can succeed in these experiments, it might be possible to control a free-swimming shark; it could be trained to track enemy ships or submarines, or to detect underwater mines or cables.

http://www.agu.org/cgi-bin/SFgate/SFgate?language=English&verbose=0&listenv=table&application=os06&convert=&converthl=&refinequery=& formintern=&formextern=&transquery=shark&_lines=&multiple=0&descriptor=/data/epubs/wais/indexes
/os06/os065012940Autonomous SharkTag with Neural Reading and Stimulation Capability for Open-ocean ExperimentsHTMLlocalhost:0/data/epubs/wais/indexes/os06/os0610288619 10291559/data2/epubs/wais/data/os06/os06.txt
1630h, AN: OS45Q-05
Autonomous Shark Tag with Neural Reading and Stimulation Capability for Open-ocean Experiments.,
by W.J. Gomes IIIth. D. Perez Jr. & J.A. Catipovic, Naval Undersea Warfare Center, 1176 Howell Street, Newport, RI 02841 United States
NUWC is developing a fish tag whose goal is attaining behavior control of host animals via neural implants. The tag is intended for long-term open ocean field efforts investigating viability of animal behavior control and its utility for networked sensing and data acquisition. The tag is centered on a multi-channel neural ensemble reader, a processor to interpret the readings in real-time, and a multi-channel stimulator, intended for both micro and macro stimulation. Additional capabilities include an undersea navigation/tracking system, acoustic and RF communication capabilities, a sensitive multi-channel Electric field measurement sensor, and a range of environmental sensors, including ph, heading and motion sensors, temperature, pressure and chemical injection micro-pumps. The design is field-reconfigurable, modular, and allows multiple sensor and controller variants to be easily configured. Ongoing work on energy harvesting methods to power the tag will be discussed.

Through a barn owl’s eyes: interactions between scene content and visual attention.,
by Shay Ohayon Wolf Harmening Hermann Wagner Ehud Rivlin Received: 31 August 2007 / Accepted: 22 October 2007 / Published online: 8 December 2007© Springer-Verlag 2007
Abstract: In this study we investigated visual attention properties of freely behaving barn owls, using a miniature wireless camera attached to their heads. The tubular eye structure of barn owls makes them ideal subjects for this research since it limits their eyemovements. Recording in various types of environments revealed significant statistical differences of low level image properties at the image fixation area compared to values extracted at random image patches. These differences are in agreement with results obtained in primates in similar studies. To investigate the role of saliency and its contribution to drawing the owl’s attention, we used a popular bottom-up computational model. Saliency values at the image fixation area were typically greater than at random patches, yet were only 20% out of the maximal saliency value, suggesting a top-down modulation of gaze control.

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