Lab-Grown Brains Learn to Play Video Games

Lab-Grown Brains Learn to Play Video Games

( – We’ve all seen movies about robots or some other weird science experiment leading to destruction and death. The fake humans almost always end up destroying real humans. Now scientists are taking the first steps towards making some people’s worst fears come true.

The University College of London has grown mini-brains in a lab and now they are teaching them to play video games. Brett Kagan of Critical Labs told New Scientist he and his colleagues grew the brains in Petri dishes. They call the small brains “DishBrains” for obvious reasons. According to Kagan, they used one million cells to create the brains that were about the equivalent of those of a cockroach. They were able to do so by turning stem cells into brain cells.

Before they started actually growing the brains, the researchers knew they wanted to teach them how to play video games. To achieve that goal, they grew the DishBrains on dual-purpose microelectrode arrays — devices that capture activity across a whole population of cells — and stimulated the stem cells and read their activity.

After Kagan and his team grew the mini-brains, they taught them how to play Pong, a game developed by Atari in 1972. According to Kagan, it only took the DishBrains about five minutes to learn how to play the game.

Imagine what bigger lab-grown brains could do.

What do you think, does this excite your brain or does it fall into the category of “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should?” Email us and let us know what you think.

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