Scientists got lab-grown human brain cells to play ‘Pong’

Researchers who grew a culture of brain cells in a lab claim they taught the cells to play a version of . Scientists at a biotech startup called Cortical Labs say it’s the first demonstrated example of a so-called “mini-brain” being taught to perform purposeful tasks. “It’s able to take in information from an external source, process it, and then act on it in real time,” Dr. Brett Kagan, lead author of an article on the research published in he said .

The culture of 800,000 brain cells is known as DishBrain. The scientists placed mouse cells (derived from embryonic brains) and human cells taken from stem cells on an array of electrodes attached to them ponghow Remarks. Electrical impulses sent to the neurons indicated the position of the ball in the game. The array then moved the paddle up and down based on signals from the neurons. DishBrain received a strong and consistent feedback signal (basically some sort of stimulus) when the racquet hit the ball and a short, random pulse when it missed.

The researchers, who believe the culture is too primitive to be aware of, noted that DishBrain showed signs of “apparent learning within five minutes of real-time gameplay that was not observed under control conditions.” After playing pong For 20 minutes, the culture got better in the game. The scientists say this indicates that the cells are reorganizing, developing networks and learning.

“They’ve changed their activity in a way that’s very consistent with actually behaving as a dynamic system,” Kagan said. “For example, the ability of neurons to change and adapt their activity based on experience increases over time, which is consistent with what we see in the cells’ learning rate.”

Future research on DishBrain will look at how drugs and alcohol affect the culture’s ability to play pong, to test whether it can be effectively treated as a replacement for a human brain. Kagan expressed hope that DishBrain (or maybe future versions of it) can be used to test treatments for diseases like Alzheimer’s.

Meanwhile, Stanford University researchers cultured stem cells in human brain tissue, which they transplanted into newborn rats. These so-called brain organoids integrate with the rodent’s own brain. After a few months, the scientists found that the organoids made up about a third of the rats’ brain hemispheres and that they were in contact with the rodents’ brain circuits. As notes that these organoids could be used to study neurodegenerative diseases or to test drugs developed to treat neuropsychiatric disorders. Scientists can also study how genetic defects in organoids can affect animal behavior.

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