Friday, November 05, 2004
One step closer to true AI? Incredible experiment nonetheless.
'Brain' in a dish flies flight simulator
(CNN) -- A Florida scientist has developed a "brain" in a glass dish that is capable of flying a virtual fighter plane and could enhance medical understanding of neural disorders such as epilepsy.
The "living computer" was grown from 25,000 neurons extracted from a rat's brain and arranged over a grid of 60 electrodes in a Petri dish.
The brain cells then started to reconnect themselves, forming microscopic interconnections, said Thomas DeMarse, professor of biomedical engineering at the University of Florida.
"It's essentially a dish with 60 electrodes arranged in a dish at the bottom," explained DeMarse, who designed the study.
"Over that we put the living cortical neurons from rats, which rapidly begin to reconnect themselves, forming a living neural network -- a brain."
Although such living networks could one day be used to fly unmanned aircraft, DeMarse said the study was of more immediate relevance as an experimental aid to understanding how the human brain performs and learns computational tasks at a cellular level.
"We're interested in studying how brains compute," said DeMarse.