Key idea: In the future, you might be able to grow your very own replacement brain parts from your own cells!
Original author and publication date: Cassidy Ward (SyFy) – January 5, 2023
Futurizonte Editor’s Note: I don’t think I am ready to re-grow my brain using my own brain cells. I mean, I hope that, if I ever have to do it, they will use cells from a more intelligent brain.
From the article:
Roughly a decade ago, scientists connected the minds of mice on two different continents using a brain to brain interface. Mice in North Carolina were connected to mice in Brazil and they had to work together to complete a task. The test was simple: when an overhead light turns on, press a lever and you’ll be rewarded. Mice are very good at those sorts of tasks. The thing is, two mice, each in different parts of the world, both had to press a lever and only one of them could see the light. When one mouse saw the light and pressed the lever, information from their brain was transmitted over the internet to the other mouse, and it was up to them to understand the techno-psychic message and press their lever too. They pulled it off an astonishing 70% of the time, demonstrating in no uncertain terms that we can connect our brains over the internet to share information. Or at least mice can.
Those experiments were the inspiration for the near-future science fiction thriller Mindgamers. In it, a group of college students link their minds in order to share information and skills, before discovering that they’re actually part of a much more nefarious plot.
Now, scientists are fiddling with mouse brains again, only this time they aren’t connecting them with their friends over the internet. They’re connecting them with a human brain organoid. That’s according to a recent study published in the journal Nature Communications.
What is a brain organoid, you might ask, and it’s a good question.
At one end of the human tissue spectrum, you have organs, three-dimensional organic structures specialized for completing specific tasks in the body. On the other end, you’ve got cell cultures, that’s when you take tissue samples and grow those cells in a lab. Growing brain cells in a petri dish gets you a two-dimensional colony of brain cells which lacks all of the structure and organization of the real thing. It’s made of brain cells, but it isn’t a brain. Organoids exist somewhere in between.
“The organoids were a breakthrough in the sense that you have a three-dimensional structure which is more similar to the brain. You get some features in terms of structure and functionality which resemble human brain activity. Of course, it’s not as complex, but it’s much more complex than a two-dimensional structure in a culture,” Martin Thunemann, a researcher at the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Boston University, told SYFY WIRE.