Brain in a dish acts as Autopilot
I’m definiately not going in a plane with this!
A University of Florida scientist has grown a living â€œbrainâ€ that can fly a simulated plane, giving scientists a novel way to observe how brain cells function as a network.
The â€œbrainâ€ — a collection of 25,000 living neurons, or nerve cells, taken from a ratâ€™s brain and cultured inside a glass dish — gives scientists a unique real-time window into the brain at the cellular level. By watching the brain cells interact, scientists hope to understand what causes neural disorders such as epilepsy and to determine noninvasive ways to intervene.
As living computers, they may someday be used to fly small unmanned airplanes or handle tasks that are dangerous for humans, such as search-and-rescue missions or bomb damage assessments.
â€œWeâ€™re interested in studying how brains compute,â€ said Thomas DeMarse, the UF professor of biomedical engineering who designed the study. â€œIf you think about your brain, and learning and the memory process, I can ask you questions about when you were 5 years old and you can retrieve information. Thatâ€™s a tremendous capacity for memory. In fact, you perform fairly simple tasks that you would think a computer would easily be able to accomplish, but in fact it canâ€™t.â€
While computers are very fast at processing some kinds of information, they canâ€™t approach the flexibility of the human brain, DeMarse said. In particular, brains can easily make certain kinds of computations ? such as recognizing an unfamiliar piece of furniture as a table or a lamp ? that are very difficult to program into todayâ€™s computers.
â€œIf we can extract the rules of how these neural networks are doing computations like pattern recognition, we can apply that to create novel computing systems,â€ he said.