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Advanced Brain Waves Detected in Lab-Grown Human Mini-Brains

Human mini-brains – known by those who don’t want to attract negative attention as ‘cerebral organoids’ (a great name for a band) — have been grown in Petri dishes by researchers for a number of years under the noble cause of helping people with neurological diseases and always with the stated understanding that these mini-brains were not capable of actually thinking. Oops. According to a new study just released, these human mini-brains can now produce brain waves that are indiscernible from some newborn humans. Uh-oh.

“If you’d asked me five years ago whether we could get organoids to generate sophisticated brain waves, I would have said no. But what we got is unprecedented. No one has ever seen this level of complexity in cerebral organoids, which is why we were so surprised.”

Biologist Alysson Muotri of the University of California, San Diego, led the research and co-authored the paper published in the journal Cell Stem Cell and summarized in various scientific publications, including STAT and Nature. He is also the co-founder and part owner of Tismoo, a Brazil-based company attempting to create brain organoids from the cells of people with rare neurological disorders and then test experimental therapies on them. Muotri and his team have focused on keeping the mini-brains alive, fed and healthy for several years so that the cells can mature just as they would in a human skull.

“What we have in a dish is following the trajectory of human brain development.”

How far along the trajectory have the cerebral organoids in the dish followed? The latest batch generated several types of brain waves that were detected by electrodes, including gamma waves, alpha waves, and delta waves. Of course, it’s one thing to detect waves. It’s another to measure how close they are to human brain waves. For that, the team turned to an artificial intelligence system trained on the EEGs recorded from 39 premature infants born after 24 to 38 weeks of gestation. The AI thought the brain waves in the human mini-brains matched those in human babies at comparable stages of development. These activities were spontaneous and self-generated, just like in prenatal fetuses.

It’s a good thing they’re not being exposed to external stimuli that they can learn from … right?

You’re so naive. Last month, mini-brains were sent to the International Space Station to test how they handle microgravity. Are they being readied to be sent on long-duration space flights where they develop as they travel? Muotri and his team are getting ready to grow the mini-brains larger than the current pea size by supplying them with more nutrients and oxygen and surrounding them with human blood vessels. At some point, Muotri believes they will face the inevitable development – consciousness. He seems so certain that he’s hosting a conference in October of biologists and philosophers to discuss how to prove or disprove the presence of consciousness in a human mini-brain.

“As a scientist, I want to get closer and closer to the human brain. I want to do that because I see the good in it. I can help people with neurological conditions by giving them better treatments and better quality of life. But it’s up to us to decide where the limit is.”

How close is he? Will the meeting draw the line at a place he’s already passed? Will other countries recognize and respect these limits? We can’t even agree on when this occurs in actual human babies. Shouldn’t we figure that out first?

Or are we too late?

Consider this food for YOUR brain.

Source: Mysterious Universe

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Science & Technology

Scientists decoded the giant squid genome and saw that this creature has a very developed brain

Giant squids of the genus Architeutis are one of the largest invertebrate creatures, which, according to official data, can reach about 8-10 meters in length, and twice as much according to unofficial ones.

Pictures of live squids were first obtained by Japanese researchers in 2004, before that scientists had ideas about giant squids only from their remains found in the stomachs of sperm whales or washed ashore.

Until now, not a single giant squid fell into the hands of scientists, which is associated not only with the fact that these creatures live mainly at great depths, but that that they rarely swim to the surface, as they sperm whale’s favorite treat.

A relatively small giant squid of the Architeuthis dux species, reaching a length of “only” 4 meters

The genome of giant squid was analyzed by a team of researchers from the University of Copenhagen (Denmark), as well as researchers from the Marine Biological Laboratory of the State of Massachusetts under the leadership of Caroline Albertin. In total, this group sorted the genomes of several cephalopods at once, including octopus, cuttlefish and nautilus mollusk.

DNA samples of a giant squid were taken from a frozen piece of flesh of this creature, found many years ago on the ocean and preserved in one of the laboratories.

Researchers first found that the size of the giant squid genome is not that far behind the human genome. The giant squid had about 2.7 billion complementary pairs of DNA, which is about 90% of the human genome.

Although the size of the genome is not necessarily related to the creature’s complexity and intellectual development, more than a hundred giant squid genes have been linked to a family of specific protocadherin proteins that are responsible for complex brain structure.

The remains of a giant squid at the Smithsonian Museum.

According to Caroline Albertin, as a rule, these proteins are found in very little (or not at all) in invertebrates, and the presence of more than 100 protocadherins in the giant squid genome can be compared to the finding of a “smoking gun”, because this directly indicates that these creatures are very smart.

By the way, in the octopus genome in 2015, the same proteins were also found in approximately the same amount.

Other unusual finds include a unique set of genes responsible for the growth and development of giant squid, which were not in the genome of octopus, cuttlefish and nautilus. This probably explains why giant squids grow so huge.

The results of this curious study were published in the scientific journal GigaScience.

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Abnormal particles whose origin remains inexplicable

Photo: Icecube / NSF

An international team of scientists has detected abnormal particles whose origin remains inexplicable. The discovery, which can refute modern ideas about particle physics, is reported in a preprint published in the arXiv.org repository .

Researchers have discovered several neutrino candidates using ANITA atmospheric probes (Antarctic Impulsive Transient Antenna). Two of the three events, which are interpreted as tau neutrinos, turned out to be associated with the atmospheric shower of high-energy particles that arose during the interaction of the Earth’s atmosphere with tau leptons. The latter flew out of the core of the Earth, with which tau neutrinos interacted, which came from the other side of the planet.

The third possible neutrino was found during the search for the Askaryan effect – radiation that occurs when particles at light speeds pass through the Earth’s substance. However, scientists also did not exclude that this event is associated with background radiation.

Physicists tested the hypothesis that all recorded neutrinos were of cosmic origin and originated in natural accelerators (for example, blazars). In this case, a secondary stream of low-energy neutrinos should have arisen, to which IceCube detectors with certain characteristics are sensitive. The data collected by the under-ice neutrino observatory over seven years were analyzed, but no signs of such a flow were found.

High-energy neutrinos were first detected by IceCube detectors in 2013. It is believed that part of these particles is born from the interaction of cosmic rays and matter (or radiation fields) in the vicinity of natural cosmic accelerators. Another type of high-energy neutrino occurs when cosmic rays interact with the cosmic microwave background. These particles pass through the Earth from all directions in a uniform flow.

According to scientists, the origin of the recorded neutrino candidates cannot be explained within the Standard Model. In the case of a uniform flow, ANITA was supposed to record similar events from different viewing angles. No possible neutrino source was also found in the direction for the neutrino candidate resulting from the proposed Askarian effect. However, these anomalies can be explained by new physics, which suggests the presence of axionic and heavy dark matter, sterile neutrinos, and supersymmetries.

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Video: Researchers in the US created the first live robots

Researchers in the US have announced that they have created tiny living machines, a kind of biological robot that can be programmed to perform various tasks, from transporting medicines into the body to cleaning up toxic waste in the environment.

Artificial biological organisms (called xenobots) were created from living cells obtained from frog embryos, designed on a supercomputer, and then assembled into completely new millimeters of life. They can move on their own to a goal and self-heal after a cut.

The researchers, led by robotics professor Joshua Bogard of the Department of Computer Science at the University of Vermont, published this in the journal of the US National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). “These are innovative living machines. They are neither traditional robots nor any known species of animal. It is a new category of creation: a living programmable organization, “said Bongard.

“We can imagine various useful applications of these living robots, which other machines cannot do, such as dispatching in radioactive contaminated environments, collecting ocean-going microplastics, or cleaning the interior of arteries from the atherosclerotic plaque ,” Mike Levin said, director of the Center for Renaissance and Developmental Biology at Tufts University, according to the Athens News Agency.

Some artificial organisms have been created in recent years, but now, for the first time, according to researchers, “completely biological machines have been designed from scratch.” A special evolutionary artificial intelligence algorithm has helped to create and test thousands of candidate designs for new forms of life, until the best possible one is found. A supercomputer – led by the algorithm – has assembled again and again several hundred simulated cells, creating various test shapes and body shapes.

After the creation plan was finally selected, embryos from the embryos of the African frogs Xenopus laevis (hence the name xenobot) were used as raw material, which were microscopically assembled on the basis of the proposed computer design. Thus were created forms of life that do not exist in nature and are capable of moving on their own.

Just as some animals in nature can regenerate their cut parts, so too can the xenobot restore its integrity. “We cut the biological robot almost in the middle, but it reattached its two parts and kept moving. This is something that typical engines cannot do, “Bogard said.

“From a cellular and genetic point of view, xenobots are frogs. Their DNA is 100% derived from frogs, although they are not frogs. So one wonders what else these cells can make, “Levin said.

The groundbreaking research is funded through the Lifelong Learning Engines program by the now-existing US Pentagon’s Advanced Defense Research Programs Service (DARPA), which is apparently also monitoring military applications.

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