“We’re trying to make the robot brain more like human brain,” said Jeff Krichmar, professor of cognitive science at the University of California, Irvine. “The brain has incredibly flexibility and adaptability. If you look at any artificial system, it’s far more brittle than biology.”

Krichmar is experimenting with building neurotic robots that exhibit signs of obsessive-compulsive disorder, just like humans, or are afraid of open spaces. He’s doing this by making a robot act like a mouse in a cage.

“If you put a rodent in a room that is open and unfamiliar, it will hug the walls,” Krichmar said. “It will hide until it becomes comfortable, then it will move across the room. It will wait until if feels comfortable. We did that with a robot and made it so it was so anxious it would never cross the room.”