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Scientists have grown 'brains' in the lab that have similar activity to the brains of premature babies, a new study reveals.
It's not quite thinking, but the researchers say that regions of the tiny lab brains were communicating with one another, a trait that makes them a great way to study how the human brain develops in action.
Conditions - Birth - Infancy - Roots - Babies
Many psychiatric and neurological conditions begin before birth or in infancy, but their roots are difficult to study in human babies.
The University of California, San Diego, research team is optimistic about the opportunities their brain organoids present for understanding these conditions, but know they could also toe a fine line between scientific study and consciousness.
UC - San - Diego - Lab - Organs
UC San Diego's is not the first lab to grow brain-like organs in petri dishes.
But unlike previous lab brains, theirs have much more complicated structures.
Stem - Cells - Researchers - Conditions - Cells
Using stem cells, the researchers tweaked petri dish conditions to encourage the cells turn into brain tissue instead of any other organ.
It's the basic premise for growing any organ in the lab, the UC San Diego team had concocted a new solution for the brains to grow in - one they hoped would be nearly identical to the conditions under which the human brain develops.
Months - Hundreds - Petri - Dishes - Brains
For 10 months, they watched hundreds of petri dishes blossom into tiny brains.
The team used electrodes to monitor the organoids for any signs of activity, because human brain only works if its various regions are talking to one another.
Study - Journal - Cell - Stem - Cell
According to the new study, published in the journal Cell Stem Cell, the new brains had complex neural networks - information highways connecting brain cells.
That meant that the lab brains had reached about the same stage of development as a premature baby.
Level - Activity
'The level of neural activity we are seeing is unprecedented in [the...
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