Unravelling the logic of neural circuits underlying behavior requires precise control of sensory inputs based on the animal’s behavior. This article presents Raspberry Pi Virtual Reality (PiVR) as an affordable tool designed to enable both academic labs and citizen-science projects to conduct such functional analysis by immersing freely-moving animals in virtual realities.
The authors describe and extensively document how a Raspberry Pi can be used to, for example, study how fruit flies react to light. Why is this interesting? It provides ways to build a system that can react to the subject’s changes in behaviour using a very accessible platform: the humble Pi.
Not only can existing reactions to light or chemicals be studied using setups like these. By inserting genes that are sensitive to, for instance, light (optogenetics) in front of a gene of interest, you can control that gene’s expression using light!
Well, I just love it when researchers create a tool that is simply easier to use, build, and of course afford. Seeing a small thing powered by a familiar, tiny circuit board sitting on a table might make a cool new field all that more accessible, in general.