Insect Stimulation

As part of my research position in the iBionics lab at NC State University I built a complete neurophysiological insect experiment platform. We were interested in studying how electrical stimulation effects the flight muscles of an insect (specifically Manduca sexta Moth) and how the flight of the insect could be controlled.

I built a custom PCB that contained a wireless microcontroller, four channel biphasic voltage stimulation, and four channel EMG recording capabilities. This system was controlled from a python program on a laptop. Wirelessly the python program could control the voltage stimulation parameters as well as stream and plot the EMG data in real time from the insect PCB. This system allowed artificial muscle movement to be induced as well as the natural muscle movement to be studied via the EMG.

To study the natural motion of the insect muscle without stimulation we took advantage of the light following instinct of most insects. I built an LED Arena consisting of large LED panels arrayed in a ring so that an insect suspended inside would be completely surrounded by the light. The lights were set as columns that rotated. The insect naturally would move to follow these lights and the attached monitoring system would record the resulting EMG.

Unfortunately I left NC State before the system was published, but I have provided the complete system documentation here as a PDF.