Arcade Neuro: brain cells in a dish learn to play Pong with Dr. Brett Kagan

Science Rehashed

Dec 28 2022 • 35 mins

Have you ever picked up a video game for the first time and felt completely lost? After a few failed attempts, you surely got better and better each time. In the same way, we can learn how to play a game or use a new piece of technology, scientists at Cortical Labs are teaching brain cells in a Petri dish to play the 1970s arcade classic Pong. With electrical feedback stimulation, the cells can learn to move a virtual platform and volley a ball back and forth with impressive accuracy. In this episode, Dr. Brett Kagan, chief scientific officer at Cortical Labs, tells us how they developed the DishBrain. We discuss how predictable feedback enables neurons to exhibit goal-directed behavior, the question of sentience, and whether we might use synthetic biological intelligence as a medical tool in the future.

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