Thursday, December 09, 2004
Via Zemblan patriot R.B.R.: A laboratory-generated rat brain grown in a Petri dish turns out to have The Right Stuff:
The "brain", grown from 25,000 neural cells extracted from a single rat embryo, has been taught to fly an F-22 jet simulator by scientists at the University of Florida.Researchers have taken pains to reassure the public that despite a string of mysterious absences in which it simply vanished from the lab for months at a stretch, the rat brain eventually completed its service requirements and received an honorable discharge.
They hope their research into neural computation will help them develop sophisticated hybrid computers, with a thinking biological component.
One target is to install living computers in unmanned aircraft so they can be deployed on missions too dangerous for humans. It is also hoped that the research will provide the basis for developing new drugs to treat brain diseases such as epilepsy . . . .
In the most striking experiment, the brain was linked to the jet simulator. Manipulated by the electrodes and a desktop computer, 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 DeMarse 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."