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Scientists Plan to Create Biocomputers Powered by Human Brain Cells

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a magnified image of a lab-grown brain organoid

A magnified image of a lab-grown brain organoid with fluorescent labeling for different cell types.

Credit: Jesse Plotkin / Johns Hopkins University

Scientists across multiple disciplines are working to create biocomputing systems for which three-dimensional cultures of brain cells, or brain organoids, serve as biological hardware. They describe their roadmap in the journal Frontiers in Science.  

The researchers call the new interdisciplinary field "organoid intelligence," or OI. Their aim is "to establish OI as a form of genuine biological computing that harnesses brain organoids using scientific and bioengineering advances in an ethically responsible manner," the authors write.

Brain organoids are a type of lab-grown cell-culture. Whereas most cell cultures are flat, organoids have a three-dimensional structure. This increases the culture's cell density 1,000-fold, meaning that neurons can form many more connections.  

The authors are also developing technologies to communicate with the organoids. They plan to adapt tools from various scientific disciplines, such as bioengineering and machine learning, as well as engineer new stimulation and recording devices. 

From Frontiers
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