Brain cells have been grown in a lab by the researchers and they learned to play the 1970s tennis-like video game, Pong.
Researchers called the cells their "mini-brain" and said that they can sense and respond to their environment. Dr. Brett Kagan, of the company Cortical Labs, published an article in the journal Neuron and claims to have created the first sentient lab-grown brain in a dish. Other experts described the work to be exciting but they also said that calling brain cells sentient is going too far.
In 2013, the mini-brains were first produced to study a genetic disorder called microcephaly, where the brain is too small. Since then it has been used for research into brain development. But this was the first time mini-brains were plugged into and interacted with an external environment.
According to Dr. Kagan, the brain cells were able to take in information from an external source, and then it can process and respond to it in real-time. The mini-brain learned to play the video game, Pong in five minutes. Though it often missed the ball the success rate of the mini-brain was well above random chance.