The human mind is one of the most complex and fascinating natural machines ever discovered, and now researchers are getting closer to being able to simulate it with the help of LEGO-like “brain balls.”
What makes the brain so difficult to replicate is the complex assortment of cells that make it up. It’s a finely-tuned machine that is constantly changing and evolving to store and recall information. So a team of scientists at Brown University set out to grow a functional analogue in a lab and see what happens. The resultant “cerebral organoid” is a pea-sized sphere of mental matter that comes far short of the thinking power of our minds, but is still giving real insight into how they develop.
To make the brain balls, stem cells are placed in a supportive gel and fed with nutrients, causing them to naturally develop into a spherical form. What’s exciting here is not the concept of growing a whole human brain from scratch – chances are that won’t happen – but the idea of linking these organoids together, LEGO-style. That interconnectivity is a vital part of the brain’s functioning, and being able to simulate that could lead to very important results.
This is very new technology, so we wouldn’t expect anything more from it for a while, but these little brain balls could have a very big impact.
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