Rat Brain Used to Pilot a Fighter Jet

Researchers have developed a "brain" grown in a dish that has the ability to control the actions of a fighter jet.
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Researchers have developed a "brain" grown in a dish that has the ability to control the actions of a fighter jet.
fighter jet

Photo Credit: U.S. Pacific Air Forces/Flickr

A professor at the University of Florida says he has developed a lab-grown rat brain that can fly a simulated F-22 fighter jet. Singularity Hub reports that Thomas DeMarse was studying the way neurons form networks and compute, and created a brain in a dish that could fly the fighter jet with an array of electrodes.

The brain has 25,000 neurons and was grown in a glass dish. The cells are cortical neurons which were cultured from a rat brain — these cells sit on a 60-electrode grid that is connected to a computer. The neurons then work with a simulator in the same way the human body does — a two-way connection in which the brain gets input from senses and tells the body what to do. 


In the case of DeMarse's experiment, the neurons receive information about flight conditions from the simulator. This triggers the neurons returning signals to the plane to give it new actions. This process is repeated in a loop to control the plane's entire flight.

“If we can extract the rules of how these neural networks are doing computations like pattern recognition, we can apply that to create novel computing systems,” DeMarse said.

DeMarse will next be building a mathematical model of now the neurons commute. In the real world, his development could make automated vehicles more efficient and also help perform operations in disaster situations or war zones. 

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