Feeds

Rat brain flies jet

Seriously

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

Florida scientists have grown a brain in a petri dish and taught it to fly a fighter plane.

Scientists at the university of Florida taught the 'brain', which was grown from 25,000 neural cells extracted from a rat embryo, to pilot an F-22 jet simulator. It was taught to control the flight path, even in mock hurricane-strength winds.

"When we first hooked them up, the plane 'crashed' all the time," Dr Thomas DeMarse, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering at the University of Florida, said. "But over time, the neural network slowly adapts as the brain learns to control the pitch and roll of the aircraft. After a while, it produces a nice straight and level trajectory."

The brain-in-a-dish was DeMarse' idea. To produce it, 25,000 rat neurones were suspended in a specialised liquid to keep them alive and then laid across a grid of 60 electrodes in a small glass dish.

The cells at first looked like grains of sand under the microscope, but soon began to connect to form what scientists call a "live computation device" (a brain). Electrodes monitor and stimulate neural activity in this network, allowing researchers to study how the brain processes and transfers information.

The scientists hope that their research will lead to hybrid computers with organic components, allowing more flexible and varied means of solving problems.

One potential application is to install living computers in unmanned aircraft for missions too dangerous for humans. It is also hoped that further advances will help in the search for cures for conditions such as epilepsy, The Age reports.

"The algorithms that living computers use are also extremely fault-tolerant," Dr DeMarse said. "A few neurons die off every day in humans without any noticeable drop in performance, and yet if the same were to happen in a traditional silicon-based computer the results would be catastrophic."

The US National Science Foundation has awarded the team a $500,000 grant to produce a mathematical model of how the neurons compute. ®

Related stories

US science alliance eyes artificial retina
Monkey mindpower manipulates robotic arm
Brain scans show difference between truth and lies

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Rosetta probot drilling DENIED: Philae has its 'LEG in the AIR'
NOT best position for scientific fulfillment
'Yes, yes... YES!' Philae lands on COMET 67P
Plucky probot aces landing on high-speed space rock - emotional scenes in Darmstadt
THERE it is! Philae comet lander FOUND in EXISTING Rosetta PICS
Crumb? Pixel? ALIEN? Better, it's a comet-catcher!
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
HUMAN DNA 'will be FOUND ON MOON' – rocking boffin Brian Cox
Crowdfund plan to stimulate Blighty's space programme
Post-pub nosh neckfiller: The MIGHTY Scotch egg
Off to the boozer? This delicacy might help mitigate the effects
I'M SO SORRY, sobs Rosetta Brit boffin in 'sexist' sexy shirt storm
'He is just being himself' says proud mum of larger-than-life physicist
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.