Growing miniature human brains in a lab--no big thang

More proof that we really have arrived in the sci-fi future–the fact that a sentence like this could just casually be included at the end of an NPR story:


Gee, what could possibly go wrong there? :smack:

I’m seeing a Lionel Barrymore vehicle in the making.

I say we implant them in rats and teach them to play Frisbee.

Maybe they can get Doctor Pretorius to make more of his miniature homunculi. Or he can sew together tiny bodies out of corpsesm inplant the brains, and sell them as “Personal Frankensteins”.

Microsoft should attach a USB port to them and sell as a Windows 10 Cortana upgrade.

…or, stick one in your pocket so you can be Mr. Smarty Pants.

Earrings! Maybe with hats, for color coordination of course.

I want them to swap out my brain for a mini-version and use all the extra space for a kick-ass home entertainment center. Oh, and some laser eyes.

Are you pondering what I’m pondering?

Meh. Given all the puny human brains that already occur in nature, this isn’t such a big deal.

I think so MacTech, but where are we going to get pink lederhosen at this time of night?

As long as we make sure they’re vulnerable to a missing Delta brain wave, we should be fine.

The thread so far is joke answers, but if you’re interested in a real answer:

The guy is referring to so-called “cerebral organoids”, which are little balls of tissue (a few millimeters across) which to a certain (very limited) degree resemble the organization and cell types found in the fetal brain. They can be produced by both mouse and human cell lines, and presumably other species, although I don’t think anyone has tried yet. They’re a hot topic in brain research at the moment, because it is very hard to study the brain of a living human fetus, for reasons I assume will be obvious, and human cerebral organoids could potentially be the next-best-thing.

Calling them “miniature brains”, however, is more of a metaphor than a reality. Their architecture is only loosely organized, they have a restricted spectrum of cell types, the neurons in the organoids remain relatively immature, and it’s not clear at this point what proportion, if any, of the neurons are actually wired together, or whether their connections are mature enough to make them capable of sending electrical signals to each other. Basically, they resemble a brain about as much as a teratoma resembles a fetus. So the technique is an incremental improvement over existing tissue culture models of brain development, but it’s not going to result in consciousness in a dish.