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Living Computer: This computer contains 80,000 brain cells

University of Illinois, USA

This computer contains 80,000 living brain cells

A machine made of flesh: Researchers made a computer using brain cells from mice. These hybrid devices could be used to build robots in the future.


Brain computer: This is what the new device looks like.

Andrew Doe, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

  • A new type of computer contains 80,000 brain cells.

  • It was built by researchers in the USA.

  • The results of the brain computers should flow to the robots.

A computer made of tens of thousands of living brain cells can recognize simple patterns of light and electricity. The specialized magazine “New Scientist” recently made a fuss with this report. The researchers, led by Andrew Doe of the University of Illinois, used 80,000 brain cells from reprogrammed mouse stem cells in the project. grown in a petri dish.

This process is similar to that used to produce so-called mini brains. These are clumps of neurons that are used to study intelligence, the journal writes. Unlike mini-brains, neurons in the computer brain were not three-dimensional, but arranged in a single layer. Finally, a palm-sized machine was placed in an incubator to keep the cells alive.

From a brain computer to a robot

In the first test, the embodied machine was able to recognize ten different patterns. For this purpose, the patterns were played repeatedly over the course of one hour. This is how the brain computer learned. After a 30-minute rest period, the device was able to recognize patterns with high reliability. The team recently presented their work at the American Institute of Physics.

But why do this at all? One option: In so-called warehouse computing, neurons from living cells are combined with traditional computer chips. The idea is that the division of labor between neurons and silicon reduces the time and energy required to train neural networks, explains.

A role model for “Binky and the Brain”? The brain’s PC runs on the power of mouse cells.

The researchers’ long-term goal is to one day develop living computers and robots. In the future, the results of brain computers research may be combined with other research work. This should then create a semi-thinking machine that can move with the muscle tissue. Nicolas Rouleau of Wilfrid Laurier University in Canada explains that the neurons in such a robot would ensure that it can perceive the environment and process inputs instantly and with less mediation.

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