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Curiosities, brain cells, in vitro, video games

Scientists grow brain cells in vitro capable of learning to play video games

A team of scientists has shown for the first time that 800,000 brain cells in vitro can perform goal-directed tasks, such as learning to play the video game Pong, according to an article published Wednesday in the journal Neuron.

The researchers gathered embryonic cells from mouse brains, as well as some stem-cell-derived human brain cells, and grew them on microelectrode arrays that could stimulate them and read their activity. The set of cells was called DishBrain.

They then turned on electrodes to the left or right of an array, to tell the cells which side the ball was on, while the frequency of the signals indicated the distance from the paddle. The feedback from the electrodes taught them how to return the ball, making the cells act like the paddle.

"We've shown that we can interact with living biological neurons in a way that forces them to modify their activity, leading to something akin to intelligence," said Brett Kagan, chief scientific officer at biotech startup Cortical Labs and lead author of the study.

open up new possibilities

Likewise, he indicated that they had never before been able to see how the cells act in a virtual environment, and explained that they managed to build a closed circuit environment that can read what happens in them, stimulate them with significant information and then change them interactively so that they really can alternate with each other.

For his part, Adeel Razi, director of the Systems and Computational Neuroscience Laboratory at Monash University (Australia) and co-author of the research, pointed out that this new ability to teach cell cultures to perform a task in which they exhibit sensitivity , opens up new possibilities for discoveries that will have far-reaching repercussions for technology, health and society.

The scientists' goal now is to test what happens when DishBrain is affected by drugs or alcohol. “This is new and virgin territory. And we want more people to join and collaborate with this, in order to use the system we have built to further explore this new area of science,” said Hon Weng Chong, executive director of Cortical Labs. (Taken from Cubadebate. With information of RT)

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