Researchers have been keenly studying about human brains. This led them to create “mini brains”, clusters of brain cells each about the size of a pea. The team reported that they have noticed human like brainwaves from these organoid.
This study led by biologist Alysson Muotri and researchers from the University of California San Diego is the first to record neural activity even though old studies of mini brain had shown movement and brain tract development. This could help in learning evolution of brains, brain development and model diseases. “We are good [at studying] cancer, we are good [at studying] the heart,” Muotri told Gizmodo by phone. “But the brain has been lagging behind.”
These organoid were created by taking pluripotent human stem cells and introduced them to nutrient rich petri dish designed to mimic the atmosphere in which our own brain develop. It is around two months of development they noticed neural activity.
““We saw that a prominent feature of these organoid oscillations is that they come in bursts: the network is inactive most of the time, and every 10-20 seconds or so, a bout of activity would spontaneously occur,” Gao said. “It was reminiscent of a feature in preterm infants, called trace discontinue, where the infant’s EEG is very inactive most of the time, punctuated by strong oscillatory transients. So if you had to call it a specific feature, I guess it’d be the fact that the oscillations come and go.… We were really fortunate at that point to find a dataset reporting these features in the preterm infant EEG.”
This could also certain ethical problems like the doubt if the mini brains are conscious. Muotri believes that is not possible, and there are no equipments available to test it at the current stage.