Brain Cells in a Lab Dish can Play Pong
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An area of research is to successfully grow human organs in a lab, even the human brain. And now a new study shows that cultured brain cells can be taught to play a computer game! That's crazy, Dave. And I remember playing the game. It's called Pong.It's like tennis where two players each controls a bar on the screen and keeps a white square or ball in play. You score a point when the other player misses, and the ball goes out.

Exactly and to see if the brain cells could learn to play, scientists grew about eight hundred thousand neurons on a silicon chip in a petri dish bathed in a nutrient solution. zing as it sounds, bacteria in the gut contributes to both our good and not-so-good brain function. And the composition of these microbes can be altered by our diet.

This is about how many cells are in a cockroach brain. The neurons formed what looked like a biological circuit board. This circuit could communicate through electric signals with the computer which was connected to the silicon chip. The computer told the cells where the moving "ball" was on the screen.

Researchers noticed that the untrained neurons were not good at "hitting" it. So, they provided positive electrical pulses to indicate when the bar hit the traveling ball. Misses received unfocused pulses. And guess what! The cells began to recognize the patterns that led to a hit and got better at it. Human neurons were better at Pong than mouse neurons which might reflect the complexity of the human brain.

Our brains are more adaptable and efficient than even today's artificial intelligence. Could living brain cell enabled robots make better decisions? Perhaps a living Terminator is in our future.

For more information…

Brain cells in a lab dish learn to play Pong - and offer a window onto intelligence
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Scientists got lab-grown human brain cells to play 'Pong'
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