Hundreds of thousands of neurons learn to play Pong, and it's good for science

Never before have video games managed to reach such popularity as in this historical period. This interactive medium is still young but has already been able to demonstrate a lot on a global level, so much so that many studies and research take this topic very seriously. An example of this is a very recent research that sees the protagonists hundreds of thousands of neurons, who managed to learn how to play a great video game classic like Pong.

It all stems from a research carried out by the Australian start-up Cortical Labs of Melbourne, which took 800.000 human and mouse neurons and demonstrated how they are able to learn to play Pong, pretty much the granddaddy of all video games. This experiment made it possible to demonstrate the intrinsic intelligence of brain cells and the very interesting thing is that it could open up important possibilities in the study of epilepsy and dementia.

The 800.000 neurons were connected to a computer running Pong. This allowed the neurons to be in the situation of receiving a series of different inputs depending on what was happening on the screen and during the game. The interesting thing for the scientists was to observe how the neurons were able to give more and more vigorous impulses every time the ball was hit in the video game.

Hundreds of thousands of brain cells in a dish are being taught to play Pong by responding to pulses of electricity – and can improve their performance more quickly than an AI can

— New Scientist (@newscientist) October 12, 2022

“This is just the beginning of a new frontier in understanding intelligence. Our research touches on the fundamental aspects not only of what it means to be human, but also what it means to be alive and intelligent to process information and be sentient in a dynamic and ever-changing world", this is what he declared Brett KaganCortical Labs researcher.

He also intervened Karl Friston, a theoretical neuroscientist at University College London, who declared that “there are wonderful and pioneering aspects in this experiment, and they are those of providing neurons with sensations, feedback and, above all, the ability to act. All of this is remarkable. You can't teach this kind of self-organization simply because, unlike a pet, these little brains have experienced no sense of reward or punishment."

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