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Scientists create “brain” in a dish - flies plane simulation

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posted on Oct, 24 2004 @ 11:02 PM

Somewhere in Florida, 25,000 disembodied rat neurons are thinking about flying an F-22.

These neurons are growing on top of a multi-electrode array and form a living "brain" that's hooked up to a flight simulator on a desktop computer. When information on the simulated aircraft's horizontal and vertical movements are fed into the brain by stimulating the electrodes, the neurons fire away in patterns that are then used to control its "body" -- the simulated aircraft.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. --- A University of Florida scientist has grown a living “brain” that can fly a simulated plane, giving scientists a novel way to observe how brain cells function as a network.

The “brain” -- a collection of 25,000 living neurons, or nerve cells, taken from a rat’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.

“We’re interested in studying how brains compute,” said Thomas DeMarse, the UF professor of biomedical engineering who designed the study. “If 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. That’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 can’t.”
University of Florida

If cloning opens up such a moral debate, what about creating 'brains'? Could they someday become sentient? I was scared of computers taking over the world!

posted on Oct, 24 2004 @ 11:09 PM
Hmmmm. This brings up so many questions. What is "a person" as I once told my paraplegic cousin..."your body is gone, but have your brain, you think, we can talk, your emotions are in tact, trying to help him see some type of existence still....of course there is also the spiritual side of "us" that kept within the brain, and if so, where does this fit is not "born" so does it not get a "soul/energy force"? Do you have to have a body and be born to have a soul/energy force?, or is all actually the brain?

posted on Oct, 25 2004 @ 08:57 AM
I wouldnt worry too much right now. The "brain" that they created only has 25,000 neurons, while a human brain has 100,000,000,000. Huge difference. Not only that, but the "brain" in the experiment isnt really a brain. Essentially, they are just using neurons to figure out how they communicate. Plus, as they admit in the article, its impossible to manipulate neurons in this manner once they hit the million or so count.

posted on Oct, 25 2004 @ 09:15 AM
I would like to point out that this is already being discussed...

posted on Oct, 25 2004 @ 09:19 AM
As pointed out above, there is an existing thread discussing this topic. Please follow up there, and I'll close this one up.
Brain In A Dish Could Fly A Plane

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