Brain cells on a plate played the video game Pong, scientists say

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the video game pong it’s such a simple concept that anyone can play, even a bowl of brain cells, according to scientists.

The researchers connected neurons, the cells responsible for receiving sensory information from the external world and for sending motor commands to muscles, from humans and mice to a computer, where the neurons realized whether their paddle was making contact with the ball.

Using electrical probes, the scientists monitored the neurons’ activity and responses and plotted the results as “spikes” on a grid, with the spikes getting stronger the more a neuron moved a paddle and hit the ball.

The scientists used software to analyze the cases in which the neurons failed. In an article published Wednesday in Neuron magazinethe researchers say they were able to show that “neurons could adapt activity to a changing environment, in a goal-oriented manner, in real time.”

“From worms to flies to humans, neurons are the building block for generalized intelligence,” first author Brett Kagan, chief scientific officer at Cortical Labs in Melbourne, Australia, said in a statement. “So the question was, can we interact with neurons in a way to harness that inherent intelligence?”

Kagan said the team chose Pong because of its simplicity and familiarity, adding that it was one of the first games used in machine learning. His team is now testing other games.

Kagan told CNN that in the short term, the technology could be used for “improved drug discovery, disease modeling and understanding how intelligence arises, which in turn could be used to develop new algorithms for machine learning.”

“It touches on fundamental aspects of not only what it means to be human, but also what it means to be alive and intelligent, to process information and to be conscious in a dynamic and ever-changing world,” added Kagan.

In the longer term, he believes it could “form the backbone of a new type of information processor”, to be used in areas such as robotics, where information processing is critical.

Two of the paper’s authors, as well as Hon Weng Chong, founder of Cortical Labs and principal investigator, have multiple patents pending on neurons that play pong, Kagan told CNN, adding that the company hopes to build devices using synthetic biological systems.

This is not the first time researchers have used Pong when studying brain capabilities.

Last year, Neuralink, the implant company owned by SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk, posted a video in which a monkey appears to play Pong using only his mind.

The 9-year-old male macaque, named Pager, had a Neuralink device implanted in both sides of his brain, according to a YouTube video posted by the company.

neurolink is developing implantable Bluetooth-enabled chips that can communicate with computers via a tiny receiver, and has previously demonstrated the technology in pigs.

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