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Brain cells grown in lab play 1970s tennis-style video game 'Pong'

The company involved claims in a research paper it may have developed the first 'sentient' lab-grown brain
Cortical Labs brain cell growth experiment for "sentient" brain
Posted at 5:43 PM, Oct 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-14 19:43:31-04

Researchers with the company Cortical Labs say they believe they've grown the first "sentient" brain in a lab.

The "mini-brain," as researchers have cautiously termed it, is being hailed as an "exciting" project by experts, but some say it might be going too far.

Human cells grown in a lab play video game

Dr. Brett Kagan, who was part of the project, made the "sentient" claims in the journal Neuron saying, "We could find no better term to describe the device.'

Kagan said, "It is able to take in information from an external source, process it, and then respond to it in real time."

The BBC reported that "mini-brains" were first created or produced in 2013 so researchers could examine and study brain development and microcephaly (a genetic issue involving tiny brains.)

The Cortical Labs research is the first time these "mini-brains" have interacted with an external environmental force.

The researchers plugged it into a video game from the 1970s called "Pong," which is a rudimentary game that is played by batting a digital ball shape on the screen back and forth in the style of tennis. The cells were connected using electrodes.

Researchers grew 800,000 human brain cells from stem cells and mouse embryos.

Researchers said after some trial and error, the cells "learned" to play the game in just a few minutes or more.

Researchers hope the study data can be used for future projects to try and treat neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer's.