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HomeNewsBrain cells were taught by scientists to play the infamous 'Pong" game.

Brain cells were taught by scientists to play the infamous ‘Pong” game.

The irresistible appeal of “Pong” is now known by brain cells. Peer-reviewed research in Neuron Cortical Labs, an Australian biotech firm, shows how neurons can play a game of table tennis and that they are capable of adapting to the environment.

Researchers created a simulation of a game by placing human stem cells and embryonic mouse cells into a dish that could capture and stimulate electric activity. Researchers then created a Pong-like simulation in the dish by using electrodes to deliver inputs that mimicked the presence of an actual Pong ball. They recorded in real time how the cells responded to this simulation. The data was used to determine if the cells “intercepted the ball”.


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Researchers discovered that cells who played more Pong over the course of the 486 games they played were healthier. Human and mouse cell cultures both missed less of the first serve and had longer rallies. Cells are capable of learning and adapting from feedback. Animal life would not exist without them. This is the first study to demonstrate that the ability of cells to learn and adapt “for a purpose-directed behavior”, the study stated.

DishBrain’s creation of the Pong-like setting.
Credit to Cortical Labs

It is possible to simulate intelligence simply by creating an environment that regulates the sentience of cells and their self-organizing capabilities. “This is the new way to think about what a neuron is,” Dr. Brett Kagan, the study’s lead author and chief scientific officer of Cortical Labs told Guardian. There is a great potential in the cell’s Pong history. This could offer valuable insights into neurological diseases such as epilepsy or dementia. It is a tool for testing drugs and genetic variations with the “exactly same computing (neuronal), elements” found in both your and my brains, said Karl Friston who was co-author of the announcement and a theoretical neuroscientist from University College London.

The next step is adding booze to this research. This is what it means for the cells. “We’re trying to create a dose response curve with ethanol – basically get them ‘drunk’ and see if they play the game more poorly, just as when people drink,” said Kagan.

You might have been able to predict what the outcome of Pong or other arcade games drunk. Our brains are controlled by our Pong-playing neurons.

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