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Author Topic: Growing A Brain  (Read 1025 times)

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Offline ParadoxTopic starter

Growing A Brain
« on: May 27, 2011, 09:32:00 AM »
Science-geniusypeople at the University of Pittsburgh are growing fucking brains, man!


http://scienceblogs.com/deanscorner/2011/05/growing_a_brain_in_a_dish.php

Seriously though. Assuming they are able to increase the rate of neuron transfer with a higher mass of tissue, do y'all think this could actually lead to a functional brain?

Also, I wish they had specified what the memory they attempted to implant was. After posting this, I am going to go read the paper itself instead of just the brief article. I will update this thread if the memory is mentioned.

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: Growing A Brain
« Reply #1 on: May 27, 2011, 11:43:25 AM »
I don't know about a functional brain but this looks like the sort of thing that could allow you to make effective bio-organic memory. Potentially. A lot of folks think that to break past the coming cap on Moore's Law we'll have to pursue something like this. A whole new version of electronic circuitry based on organics like the brain and nervous system.

Offline Beguile's Mistress

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Re: Growing A Brain
« Reply #2 on: May 27, 2011, 11:45:24 AM »
Isn't Pitt awesome?  Ass the girl from Pittsburgh.

Offline Langueduchatte

Re: Growing A Brain
« Reply #3 on: May 27, 2011, 10:44:45 PM »
*Grins*

I love this kind of research.  I'm a bit peeved I cannot get hold of the full paper (why can't more things be open access?)
No matter.  I shall nerd away regardless... 
Does this mean they'll grow a brain?  My thoughts are: Not in our lifetime. 
What it does afford is a much better understanding into how neuronal circuits in the brain work (at least from what I can gather from the abstract.)  So, apologies if I'm patronising anyone, but here's my version of what I think it's all about:
Firstly, consider which neuronal tissue they chose - the cells are from the hippocampus.  This is one of the first places they really started to get excited about when researching neuroplasticity - it's associated with short- and long-term memory, and spatial navigation (and it's a source of neuronal stem cells.)  There was a study some years ago showing that London taxi drivers (who have to memorise all the potential routes in central London) have a larger / more active posterior hippocampal region*.  It's also from research into this region that the concepts of long-term potentiation and long-term depression arose (depression in the sense of diminution, rather than in the Ψ concept.)  At neuron level this is about increasing / decreasing the strength of transmission across synapses.  The stronger the synaptic connection, the easier it is to excite the neurons involved (and vice versa).  As an area of the brain associated with memory, it's a logical choice for seeing what happens when you mess around with excitation and inhibition.   So with this research, by blocking what is inhibiting synaptic transmission, the neuronal activity generated by the initial stimulus given to the doughnut of hippocampal cells in vitro is maintained for significantly longer.  As they point out in the abstract, this is nigh on impossible to study in vivo, so the construction of the circuit itself is phenomenal. 
But,is this a memory?  Not, perhaps as we perceive it, but it's the stuff memories are made of...and it's damn clever stuff. 

(As an aside, if I got this wrong, I'm happy to be corrected.)

Yours, etc.

Langueduchatte
*http://www.pnas.org/content/97/8/4398.full.pdf+html - for those of you who like that kind of thing.
« Last Edit: May 27, 2011, 10:53:42 PM by Langueduchatte »

Offline Oniya

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Re: Growing A Brain
« Reply #4 on: May 28, 2011, 04:39:30 PM »
Why do I have images of Ray Bolger dancing through my head?

Offline Langueduchatte

Re: Growing A Brain
« Reply #5 on: May 28, 2011, 05:19:35 PM »
I have a feeling you're not in Kansas anymore...
Or maybe it's because you have a heart.   :D
L

Offline NotoriusBEN

Re: Growing A Brain
« Reply #6 on: May 31, 2011, 03:41:50 AM »
I dont know why, but Im getting a Jacob's ladder vibe from this.
The thing could be in a living nightmare and we'd never know it.

Granted, its just a few neurons stretched over a waffer and fed and electric jolt, but
the line between brain-in-a-jar and neural processor looks very wide and grey to me. >.>;;

Offline Oniya

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Re: Growing A Brain
« Reply #7 on: May 31, 2011, 03:53:37 AM »
I dont know why, but Im getting a Jacob's ladder vibe from this.
The thing could be in a living nightmare and we'd never know it.

Granted, its just a few neurons stretched over a waffer and fed and electric jolt, but
the line between brain-in-a-jar and neural processor looks very wide and grey to me. >.>;;

Wouldn't that be 'Johnny Got His Gun'?

Offline NotoriusBEN

Re: Growing A Brain
« Reply #8 on: May 31, 2011, 04:04:57 AM »
close to what I was thinking, and is actually more apt.

I was thinking about the Vietnam movie about the guy that is suffering delusions and madness
as he lives on through the 1980s but we find out he actually died in 1971 and we are watching
his last moments.

Offline Langueduchatte

Re: Growing A Brain
« Reply #9 on: May 31, 2011, 04:31:41 AM »
I have a vague memory of a bit in that film that really freaked me... Is Jacob"s Ladder where there's the spookily delivered line "dream on!"?
« Last Edit: May 31, 2011, 04:36:04 AM by Langueduchatte »

Offline Oniya

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Re: Growing A Brain
« Reply #10 on: May 31, 2011, 05:47:49 AM »
close to what I was thinking, and is actually more apt.

I was thinking about the Vietnam movie about the guy that is suffering delusions and madness
as he lives on through the 1980s but we find out he actually died in 1971 and we are watching
his last moments.

Yes, that's a good summary of Jacob's Ladder.  I was just thinking the other movie might be more appropriate.  My posting hasn't been terribly coherent recently *looks sheepish*.

Offline Wolfy

Re: Growing A Brain
« Reply #11 on: May 31, 2011, 05:32:13 PM »
I don't know about a functional brain but this looks like the sort of thing that could allow you to make effective bio-organic memory. Potentially. A lot of folks think that to break past the coming cap on Moore's Law we'll have to pursue something like this. A whole new version of electronic circuitry based on organics like the brain and nervous system.

And then...games. That are implanted into your mind.

Think of the possibilities!