Updated: 5/16/2006; 3:06:08 PM.

Current events
Post-9-11 events and analyses

daily link  Saturday, December 11, 2004

Why this brain flies on rat cunning: "a [rat's] brain nurtured in a Petri dish learns to pilot a fighter plane as scientists develop a new breed of "living" computer..  The "brain", grown from 25,000 neural cells extracted from a single rat embryo, has been taught to fly an F-22 jet simulator by scientists at the University of Florida.  They hope their research into neural computation will help them develop sophisticated hybrid computers, with a thinking biological component. ..

The brain-in-a-dish is the idea of Thomas DeMarse, 37, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering at the University of Florida. His work has been praised as a significant insight into the brain by leading US academics and scientific journals. The 25,000 neurons were suspended in a specialised liquid to keep them alive and then laid across a grid of 60 electrodes in a small glass dish. ..

In the most striking experiment, the brain was linked to the jet simulator. Manipulated by the electrodes and a desktop computer, it was taught to control the flight path, even in mock hurricane-strength winds. "When we first hooked them up, the plane 'crashed' all the time," Dr DeMarse said. "But over time, the neural network slowly adapts as the brain learns to control the pitch and roll of the aircraft. After a while, it produces a nice straight and level trajectory."

Previously, scientists have been able to monitor the activity of only a few neurons at a time, but Dr DeMarse and his team can study how thousands of cells conduct calculations together. But it is still a long way from a human brain.  "The goal is to study how cortical networks perform their neural computations. The implications are extremely important," Dr DeMarse said"

  12:58:55 AM  permalink  

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Copyright 2006 © Ken Novak.
Last update: 5/16/2006; 3:06:08 PM.