In vivo robotics: the automation of neuroscience and other intact-system biological fields

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2013 Dec;1305(1):63-71. doi: 10.1111/nyas.12171. Epub 2013 Jul 10.


Robotic and automation technologies have played a huge role in in vitro biological science, having proved critical for scientific endeavors such as genome sequencing and high-throughput screening. Robotic and automation strategies are beginning to play a greater role in in vivo and in situ sciences, especially when it comes to the difficult in vivo experiments required for understanding the neural mechanisms of behavior and disease. In this perspective, we discuss the prospects for robotics and automation to influence neuroscientific and intact-system biology fields. We discuss how robotic innovations might be created to open up new frontiers in basic and applied neuroscience and present a concrete example with our recent automation of in vivo whole-cell patch clamp electrophysiology of neurons in the living mouse brain.

Keywords: neuroscience; patch clamping; robotics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Automation
  • Automation, Laboratory
  • Electrophysiological Phenomena
  • Humans
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Neurosciences* / trends
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Robotics* / trends