Do Fruit Flies Have Emotions?

“For us, that’s a big step beyond just casually intuiting that a fly fleeing a visual threat must be ‘afraid,’ based on our anthropomorphic assumptions.It suggests that the flies’ response to the threat is richer and more complicated than a robotic-like avoidance reflex.Drosophila Thinking Question

This may be useful to game designers. Can we make a bot that actually feels fear … and if not, how close can we get?

Using fruit flies to study the basic components of emotion, a new Caltech study reports that a fly’s response to a shadowy overhead stimulus might be analogous to a negative emotional state such as fear — a finding that could one day help us understand the neural circuitry involved in human emotion.



Behavioral Responses to a Repetitive Visual Threat Stimulus Express a Persistent State of Defensive Arousal in Drosophila @ Cell Press

Media Mentions:

Fruit Flies Are Shown to Enter a Fearlike State @ NY Times

Animal emotions: Do fruit flies feel fear? @ CS Monitor


Drosophila @ Wikipedia

See Also:


Virtual Humans to Teach Emotion Recognition and Programming Logic

This looks interesting — !

Digiplay InitiativecMotion: A New Game Design to Teach Emotion Recognition and Programming Logic to Children using Virtual Humans

Publication Type: Journal Article
Year of Publication: 2009

Finkelstein, S. L.
A. Nickel
L. Harrison
E. A. Suma
T. Barnes

Journal IEEE Virtual Reality 2009, Proceedings


This paper presents the design of the final stage of a new game currently in development, entitled cMotion, which will use virtual humans to teach emotion recognition and programming concepts to children. Having multiple facets, cMotion is designed to teach the intended users how to recognize facial expressions and manipulate an interactive virtual character using a visual drag-and-drop programming interface. By creating a game which contextualizes emotions, we hope to foster learning of both emotions in a cultural context and computer programming concepts in children. The game will be completed in three stages which will each be tested separately: a playable introduction which focuses on social skills and emotion recognition, an interactive interface which focuses on computer programming, and a full game which combines the first two stages into one activity.

Digiplay Initiative

Philip K. Dick: android headHow very Phildickian: machines to teach children how to recognize human emotions. Martian Time-Slip comes to mind, with its teaching simulacra based on historical figures, e.g. the Abe Lincoln sim teaches self-reliance and related moral values. See also Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, where androids — living secretly among us — are more human than real humans. And don’t forget: We Can Remember It For You Wholesale. Then again: We Can Build You. And, inevitably: The Simulacra.

In the gaming field, Valve deserves special recognition for pioneering the memorable virtual humans of Half-Life, Half-Life 2, and subsequent games. From elaborate models and scripted sequences to persuasive non-player AI to facial animation and voice sequencing, Valve has advanced game technology like no other company.

Halflife scientist administers CPR