Cells in a petri dish learned to play pong

A team of neuroscientists from Australia, the UK, and Canada release a pre-print paper detailing a technology called "DishBrain." It integrates with brain cells to provide a "stimulated game-world," using electrical signals to train a clump of cells to play pong as if they were the paddle.

Researchers at the biotechnology startup Cortical Labs have created "mini-brains" consisting of 800,000 to one million living human brain cells in a petri dish, New Scientist reports. The cells are placed on top of a microelectrode array that analyzes the neural activity. 

To teach the mini-brains the game, the team created a simplified version of "Pong" with no opponent. A signal is sent to either the right or left of the array to indicate where the ball is, and the neurons from the brain cells send signals back to move the paddle. 


The cells recieve electical feedback to indicate whether their position was good or bad, and they soon caught on. Though the clumps of nervous system cells are they're intelligent and alive, they're nowhere near self-awareness — and it's safe to assume they don't realize there's more to life than playing pong.