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Mixing brain cells and nanodots

ScuttleMonkey posted about 8 years ago | from the smarter-than-some-people-i-know dept.

73

Roland Piquepaille writes "It's not the first time that animal brain cells have been used in conjunction with nanoparticles. But now, a team of Israeli researchers have grown self-organizing networks of rat brain cells by binding them to carbon nanotubes. In a short article, New Scientist reports that these neural networks are remarkably stable, surviving for almost three months in the lab. These hybrid networks could be used in future biological sensors. For example, they could identify a poison by measuring its effect on such a network of brain cells."

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73 comments

Wait, what's this about nanodots? (5, Interesting)

Zarel (900479) | about 8 years ago | (#15597838)

I see the summary and article mention nanotubes but no nanodots, and I've never heard of nanodots before. Wikipedia doesn't have an article about them. What are they?

Re:Wait, what's this about nanodots? (0, Offtopic)

XavierDavid (830757) | about 8 years ago | (#15597852)

Google is your friend...

Re:Wait, what's this about nanodots? (4, Funny)

Tx (96709) | about 8 years ago | (#15597878)

They're a little like a slashdot, only smaller.

Re:Wait, what's this about nanodots? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15597891)

Nanodot? It's a catchall term for one of those nano-sized spherical looking things.

A buckyball is a kind of nanodot. Some micelles could be considered nanodots.

HTH...

Re:Wait, what's this about nanodots? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15599074)

Re:Wait, what's this about nanodots? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15608645)

another word for microdots

I LOVE ACID!!!!

Heh (4, Funny)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | about 8 years ago | (#15597846)

"For example, they could identify a poison by measuring its effect on such a network of brain cells"

proc DetectPoison ()
{
      global $NeuralActivity;
      if($NeuralActivity == 0) return true;
      return false;
}

Re:Heh (2, Informative)

Mayhem178 (920970) | about 8 years ago | (#15597884)

Wow...that is just awful and not right! You are a bad, bad person! How do you sleep at night?

proc DetectPoison()
{
global $NeuralActivity;
return $NeuralActivity == 0;
}

There, that's better. :D

Re:Heh (1)

Joebert (946227) | about 8 years ago | (#15598008)

You're both insane...

Re:Heh (1)

chris_eineke (634570) | about 8 years ago | (#15598015)

(defun detect-poison (neural-activity)
    (= neural-activity 0))

Re:Heh (1, Informative)

Mayhem178 (920970) | about 8 years ago | (#15598509)

You scheming bastard... :P

Re:Heh (1)

cyberbian (897119) | about 8 years ago | (#15597885)

Wouldn't that be:


proc DetectPoison(NeuralActivity)
{
if(NeuralActivity==0) return true;
return false;
}

I suppose that NeuralActivity would preexist in the softs? ;)

Re:Heh (1)

Retric (704075) | about 8 years ago | (#15598053)

Or

proc DetectPoison(NeuralActivity)
{
  return (NeuralActivity==0);
}

Real programmers use C (1)

mangu (126918) | about 8 years ago | (#15597914)


int DetectPoison()
{
    extern int NeuralActivity;
    return !NeuralActivity;
}

Simpler code.
Runs faster.

Re:Real programmers use C (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15599005)

inline int DetectPoison() {
return 1;
}

Totally paranoid.
Runs even faster.

Re:Heh (1)

mikesd81 (518581) | about 8 years ago | (#15597925)

Okay, all kidding aside. They probaly wouldn't be re-useable, right? How many would a person have to carry then to actually search a building area by area or floor by floor, you get the point. How cost-efficent, or efficient even, would that be?

Re:Heh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15598245)

bool DetectPoison(void) {
      AnimalSensorData rat = AnimalSensorData.getInstance("rat_we_fed_poison_to ");

      return rat.checkDead();
}

Re:Heh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15598340)

Think peal away bandaids that you can stick anywhere and are just as cheap.

Film at 11 (1)

Frightening (976489) | about 8 years ago | (#15598356)

American congress was poisoned 50 years ago, effects still strong..

Re:Heh (1)

powers_722 (933907) | about 8 years ago | (#15598908)

You meant...

proc DetectPoison ()
{
            global $NeuralActivity;
            return ($NeuralActivity == 0);
}

Right?

Re:Heh (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | about 8 years ago | (#15599035)

Hmm.. that explains why my Mel scripts don't work.

The next logical step (3, Funny)

Valacosa (863657) | about 8 years ago | (#15597916)

The next logical step: implant the carbon nanotubes into a rat embryo and let it develop into an adult rat. Think of the applications! We could know what rats are thinking at all times!

"Mmmm...cheese."

Then it's just a quick leap to remote controlled rats. That would be fun.

They've already got remote controlled rats... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15597961)

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2002/05/05 01_020501_roborats.html [nationalgeographic.com]

Couple this with:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A17434-20 03Oct12?language=printer [washingtonpost.com]

and you get monkeys that can control rats with their mind!

I for one welcome our new monkey overlords and their army of mind controlled rats...

Re:The next logical step (1)

cp.tar (871488) | about 8 years ago | (#15598317)

Yes, fun.

Cranium rats. Just what we need.

If there are four or more in one place, they can cast spells, y'know?

Re:The next logical step (1)

alshithead (981606) | about 8 years ago | (#15598402)

Ahhhh!!! We are Borg...

Re:The next logical step (1)

ichigo 2.0 (900288) | about 8 years ago | (#15599792)

But their tails are so tasty! If they get out of control, we just need to create an army of undead zombies, what could go wrong?

Re:The next logical step (1)

cp.tar (871488) | about 8 years ago | (#15599803)

Their tails are worth 1 gp apiece.

We can set bounties on them.

At least until Ankh-Morporkians hear of it, invade Planescape and start farming the rats for their tails.

My brain hurts.

Re:The next logical step (1)

bondjamesbond (99019) | about 8 years ago | (#15600349)

Not thinking, you insensitive clod, PONDERING.

The Brain: Are you pondering what I'm pondering??

Re:The next logical step (1)

WilliamSChips (793741) | about 8 years ago | (#15600939)

I think so Brain, but hasn't Freenode been hacked?

Re:The next logical step (1)

pookemon (909195) | about 8 years ago | (#15603816)

No - first you need the nano cheese, then you can grow the rats...

Ethics (0)

weston (16146) | about 8 years ago | (#15597923)

Brain cells are one of the places we know become feeling and even conscious beings. So... is it ethical for us to set them in products?

I'm aware that we already do all kinds of unholy things to animals for research, but this seems different.

Also, there's the always the chance of these things becoming a self-aware SkyRatNet. Who wants to risk that?

Re:Ethics (1)

uncoveror (570620) | about 8 years ago | (#15598088)

This is a slippery slope. [uncoveror.com]

Re:Ethics (2, Insightful)

TheDreadSlashdotterD (966361) | about 8 years ago | (#15598105)

Ethics? Who needs ethics? [thebestpag...iverse.net]

I know the above link is OT and disturbing (even by my standards), but if the parts of an animal or a human can benefit the rest of the world, then why not use them? It's like nature (or God, if you prefer) handing us a cherished gift and throwing it in the dumpster because we think it disgraces us morally/ethically. What a load of crap. It's just a blob of molecules arranged in a certain way. Get over it.

Uploaded cats are a bad idea. (1)

LionKimbro (200000) | about 8 years ago | (#15598265)

"Cats," says Pamela. "He was hoping to trade their uploads to the Pentagon as a new smart bomb guidance system in lieu of income tax payments. Something about remapping enemy targets to look like mice or birds or something before feeding it to their sensorium. The old kitten and laser pointer trick."

Manfred stares at her, hard. "That's not very nice. Uploaded cats are a bad idea."


-- Accelerando [accelerando.org]

Re:Uploaded cats are a bad idea. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15600474)

Paul -- or the flesh-and-blood man whose memories he'd inherited -- had traced the history of Copies back to the turn of the century, when researchers had begun to fine-tune the generic computer models used for surgical training and pharmacology, transforming them into customized versions able to predict the needs and problems of individual patients. Drug therapies were tried out in advance on models which incorporated specific genetic and biochemical traits, allowing doses to be optimized and any idiosyncratic side-effects anticipated and avoided. Elaborate operations were rehearsed and perfected in Virtual Reality, on software bodies with anatomical details--down to the finest capillaries--based on the flesh-and-blood patient's tomographic scans.
These early models included a crude approximation of the brain, perfectly adequate for heart surgery or immunotherapy-- and even useful to a degree when dealing with gross cerebral injuries and tumours--but worthless for exploring more subtle neurological problems.
Imaging technology steadily improved, though--and by 2020, it had reached the point where individual neurons could be mapped, and the properties of individual synapses measured, non-invasively. With a combination of scanners, every psychologically relevant detail of the brain could be read from the living organ--and duplicated on a sufficiently powerful computer.
At first, only isolated neural pathways were modeled: portions of the visual cortex of interest to designers of machine vision, or sections of the limbic system whose role had been in dispute. These fragmentary neural models yielded valuable results, but a functionally complete representation of the whole organ--embedded in a whole body--would have allowed the most delicate feats of neurosurgery and psy-chophannacology to be tested in advance. For several years, though, no such model was built--in part, because of a scarcely articulated unease at the prospect of what it would mean. There were no formal barriers standing in the way-- government regulatory bodies and institutional ethics committees were concerned only with human and animal welfare, and no laboratory had yet been fire-bombed by activists for its inhumane treatment of physiological software--but still, someone had to be the first to break all the unspoken taboos.
Someone had to make a high-resolution, whole-brain Copy--and let it wake, and talk.
In 2024, John Vines, a Boston neurosurgeon, ran a fully conscious Copy of himself in a crude Virtual Reality. Taking slightly less than three hours of real time (pulse racing, hyperventilating, stress hormones elevated), the first Copy's first words were: 'This is like being buried alive. I've changed my mind. Get me out of here.' "

  - Harper Prism, Permutation City.

" 'Optimizing anything to do with Copies is a subtle business. You must have heard about the billionaire recluse who wanted to run as fast as possible -- even though he never made contact with the outside world -- so he fed his own code into an optimizer. After analyzing it for a year, the optimizer reported 'this program will produce no output', and spat out the optimized version -- which did precisely nothing.' "

  - Same again.

Re:Ethics (1)

MisaDaBinksX4evah (889652) | about 8 years ago | (#15598634)

Brain cells are one of the places we know become feeling and even conscious beings. So... is it ethical for us to set them in products?

I'm aware that we already do all kinds of unholy things to animals for research, but this seems different.


It's true that playing with some cells in a dish is different than shoving tubes into an animal's organs and such. Which seems more ethical again?

Re:Ethics (1)

ScentCone (795499) | about 8 years ago | (#15598856)

Brain cells are one of the places we know become feeling and even conscious beings. So... is it ethical for us to set them in products?

Well, if you're not actually putting them in a framework that, by its very nature, can possibly develop into an actual brain... then, yes, certainly.

Re:Ethics (1)

Liam Slider (908600) | about 8 years ago | (#15598907)

Brain cells are one of the places we know become feeling and even conscious beings. So... is it ethical for us to set them in products?
Brain cells no...not really. Complex brains made up of brain cells in the right configuration do.

Re:Ethics (1)

wtansill (576643) | about 8 years ago | (#15598953)

Brain cells are one of the places we know become feeling and even conscious beings. So... is it ethical for us to set them in products?

I'm aware that we already do all kinds of unholy things to animals for research, but this seems different.

OK -- we'll use brain cells from polititcians. Better? Oh wait...

welcome (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15597958)

I for one welcome our nanodot overloads!

Microdots (3, Funny)

Joebert (946227) | about 8 years ago | (#15597972)

In a short article, New Scientist reports that these neural networks are remarkably stable, surviving for almost three months in the lab.

Awesome ! The last batch of Microdots I got only lasted about 7 hours.

Re:Microdots (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15598052)

Ah, you've got to use some of the experimental dots. They last up to 10 or 12!

They're Pinky and The Brain (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15598050)

Yes, Pinky and The Brain
One is a genius
The other's insane.
They're laboratory mice
Their genes have been spliced
They're dinky
They're Pinky and The Brain, Brain, Brain, Brain
Brain, Brain, Brain, Brain
Brain.

Before each night is done
Their plan will be unfurled
By the dawning of the sun
They'll take over the world.

Re:They're Pinky and The Brain (1)

painQuin (626852) | about 8 years ago | (#15598678)

Narf.

Stable? (0, Flamebait)

Tavor (845700) | about 8 years ago | (#15598082)

"New Scientist reports that these neural networks are remarkably stable, surviving for almost three months in the lab." NS must run Windows... only thing that can explain that remark.

Trippin (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15598089)

"For example, they could identify a poison by measuring its effect on such a network of brain cells."

The 60's called. They want their sensor back.

Re:Trippin (1)

Canar (46407) | about 8 years ago | (#15598250)

The 60's called. They want their sensor back.
The 90's called. They want their joke back.

Re:Trippin (1)

cnettel (836611) | about 8 years ago | (#15598304)

The 2200s called, they want their humpbacks back.

Re:Trippin (3, Funny)

k4_pacific (736911) | about 8 years ago | (#15598597)

2002 called, they want their The 90s called. they want their joke back joke back.

Re:Trippin (1)

heinousjay (683506) | about 8 years ago | (#15599070)

My mom called. She doesn't want anything back, but it was nice to hear from her.

Somewhat related (-1, Offtopic)

janet-on (982800) | about 8 years ago | (#15598099)

Stem cells might be a neat buzzword to get funding, but as a parent of a child with serious brain damage, I can tell you that this is more likely a politically motivated stunt to grease the slippery slope of stem cell research, than something that will generate measurable results. After all, nobody wants to hurt brain damaged children.

The reason I'm so cynical is that babies are very resilient, and for the most part they are like stem cell factories on their own. As they grow, they produce new brain and nerve material, which adults cannot do. It is adult disease and injury (and greed) that fuels the stem cell craze, since our adult bodies cannot heal like young children can.

My daughter had a stroke two months before she was born. This stroke wiped out 85% of the left hemisphere of her brain, replacing it with a fluid filled cyst. When she was three months old, she had an operation to add a drainage passage to this cyst, as it was filling with cerebral spinal fluid and had expanded to fill the entire left half of her cranium cavity. This operation cut through parts of her brain, leaving her completely blind.

At nine months of age, the drainage passage had collapsed, and the cyst had enlarged to block all drainage of cerebral spinal fluid from her brain. Her head swelled with a condition know as hydrocephalus, and she almost died. That night, the CAT scans showed that 75% of the volume that should have been occupied by her brain was filled with fluid. She had an emergency operation to install an artificial drainage valve (a shunt). This event was catastrophic, and was like having her "reset" switch activated, she had to re-learn everything.

Now, the good news. She is eighteen months old now, and has recovered remarkably. Her last CAT scan showed that the original cyst had been reduced to only 25% of the left half of her brain, and the right half is completely restored. The original passage that was cut, that caused her blindness, has healed shut. Her vision is steadily improving and she shows signs that she may be functional without the use of a cane someday. Sure, she's a little behind developmentally, but she is showing lots of promise. All of her healing was without the use of any stem cell treatment, because babies are stem cell factories. Her same injuries would have killed an adult, several times over.

Re:Somewhat related (1)

groundround (962898) | about 8 years ago | (#15598173)

Great news about you daughter, but what's wrong with healing adults?

Mod parent down for blatant plagiarism! (4, Informative)

FleaPlus (6935) | about 8 years ago | (#15598630)

When reading the parent comment, I thought it was a little bit odd that it was talking about stem cells when the article has nothing to do with stem cells. After a quick google search, it turns out that the parent comment is actually a verbatim copy of a comment by someone else on a story last year:

http://science.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=171904 &cid=14316980 [slashdot.org]

In fact, just about all the prior comments [slashdot.org] by "janet-on" seem to be verbatim copies of comments made by other people. The trick seems to work rather well, considering that the previous three comments all got modded to a score of 5, and the current comment is now at score 4.

Personally, I'm guessing that "janet-on" is a bot someone made to try to accumulate karma, to allow them to moderate comments.

Re:Mod parent down for blatant plagiarism! (1)

ChrisGilliard (913445) | about 8 years ago | (#15599527)

Personally, I'm guessing that "janet-on" is a bot someone made to try to accumulate karma

Yeah, either that or a rat brain/nanodot combo made to try to accumulate karma.

Re:Somewhat related (1)

OctaviusIII (969957) | about 8 years ago | (#15598676)

1. Not at all remotely connected to the topic
2. Stop plagiarising
3. Personal experience and a heartwarming tale do not make science or ethical norms, although they do make the reddest of herrings

If I'm not mistaken... (-1, Troll)

msauve (701917) | about 8 years ago | (#15598153)

"Frankenstein" is a Jewish name.

Re:If I'm not mistaken... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15598527)

It's pronounced Fronkensteen.

Overlords... (0)

rucs_hack (784150) | about 8 years ago | (#15598179)

I for one welcome our rat brain overlords....

Re:Overlords... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15598971)

I for one welcome our rat brain overlords....
Here in DC we call them "Congress"...

Hardware Vs Biological Routes (3, Interesting)

sc0p3 (972992) | about 8 years ago | (#15598188)

This is interesting development in light of the advances of the hardware methods for neural networks. There seems to be two routes to mimic AI / biology; Hardware simulation of neurons, and biological embedding of neurons on chips.

The article says its to "identify a compound" which is achieved by embedding the olfactory/taste/heat etc neurons on chips and monitoring the signals generated. These neurons have special proteins in their membranes to identify the compounds, but this could very easily be extended to AI networks, and opens up alot more possibility.

Robotic control algorithms brached in the 50's-60's into serial control and neurological control. The processing limitations in earlier days inhibited the latter development path, but there have been a number of interesting developments like this one recently showing progression of the neural paths - eg Sony Robodog a few days earlier.

But how does this relate to detecting poison? (1)

manx801 (698055) | about 8 years ago | (#15598234)

Call me a skeptic, but I fail to see the correlation between coaxing neurons to connect up in an organized way and building a sensor that is of practical for solving a particular problem. Most neuroscientists would probably agree that the apparent intelligence, or problem solving capability of columns in cortex is due to the interplay between groups of neurons that have been connected up in a very special way through, for example, pairwise co-occurrence of stimuli.

Re:But how does this relate to detecting poison? (1)

Otter (3800) | about 8 years ago | (#15598936)

Not that this work is anywhere near practical utility yet, but creating a network that responds to a specific stimulus with a specific action is much simpler than the kind of complex response you're talking about. Given the biological tools, it shouldn't be much harder than, say, designing an electronic smoke alarm.

It's the BORG (1)

Anonymous Monkey (795756) | about 8 years ago | (#15598239)

Think about it, Borg nano-bots. Be afraid.

reacts to poison? (1)

DogAlmity (664209) | about 8 years ago | (#15598664)

Wouldn't it react by, dying? And couldn't you just use any living tissue for that?

Celldeath is somtimes a bad mesure. (1)

The Creator (4611) | about 8 years ago | (#15600041)

There are many poisons that effect neural networks badly without killing a single cell.

Consider LSD for example, nontoxic by any standard at typical dosage.

May as well get it over with (1)

stunt_penguin (906223) | about 8 years ago | (#15598714)

1. I for one welcome our new beowlf cluster of rodent-neuron-based overlords 2. Compare to ghost in the Shell 3. ??? 4. Profit!

Re:May as well get it over with (1)

Velocir (851555) | about 8 years ago | (#15603438)

But only in Soviet Russia...

God Approved... (1)

agent (7471) | about 8 years ago | (#15599031)

It is from Israeli, so God sends "his" blessings.

Don't know about nanodots... (1)

Emetophobe (878584) | about 8 years ago | (#15601002)

I don't know about nanodots, but I've had some experience with microdots when I was younger.

Brain cells and nanodots? Progress marches on. (1)

hey! (33014) | about 8 years ago | (#15601080)

Having seen the results of mixing brain cells and microdots [wikipedia.org] in the 70s, I shudder to think of the consequences.

I once sat next to a guy from my dorm at a movie; there was a scene where a couple was sitting at a table and the woman was laughing.

"Oh, wow!" said my friend, "look how her teeth are spinning around. Like a chainsaw or something."

"What are you talking about?" I whispered.

"Her teeth are spinning around!"

"No they aren't," I replied. "Are you OK?"

"Oh, don't worry," he replied,"somebody must've salted my food with acid."

"Some joke," I said, thinking that if somebody did that to me I'd break both their arms. For starters.

"Nah, it's cool," he replied,"I've done a lot of acid. It couldn't have been much"

Welcome (1)

xazos79 (931382) | about 8 years ago | (#15602762)

I, for one, welcome our new rat overlords.

I'll always be a hominid at heart (1)

smchris (464899) | about 8 years ago | (#15602938)

Ask me what adult genetic modifications I'd like and I can tell you, but the whole brain in a machine interface creeps me out. I blame Babylon 5. Growing the cell/interface lattice from scratch creeps me out even more for some reason. Guess we all have our limits.
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