Oct. 13, 2022 -- Anyone who grew up in the 1970s likely recalls an early prototype of video games called Pong. Released in 1972, it was a simplistic version of ping pong that sent a digital ball blipping slowly across the screen, from one side’s crude “paddle” to the other.

Now, researchers say they have grown brain cells in a lab that can play Pong – a mini-brain that can sense and respond to its environment, the BBC reported.

In the journal Neuron, Brett Kagan, of Cortical Labs, says it’s the first ''sentient'' lab-grown brain in a dish. Others say that term goes too far.

"We could find no better term to describe the device,'' Kagan said. ''It is able to take in information from an external source, process it and then respond to it in real time."

Researchers grew human brain cells from stem cells and some from mouse embryos. They then connected the “mini-brain” to the video game electronically.

The mini-brain learned to play in five minutes. It missed the “ball” many times but was more successful than it would’ve been by random odds.

The BBC pointed out that artificial-intelligence devices can beat grandmasters at chess.

But that’s different, Karl Friston of University College London says, because “The mini-brain learned without it being taught and so is more adaptable and flexible."

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Neuron: “In vitro neurons learn and exhibit sentience when embodied in a simulated game-world.“

BBC: “Lab-grown brain cells play video game Pong.”

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