Human Brain Cells Attached To A Chip Are Capable Of Speech Recognition

kuzum lab brain organoids by david baillot

Ready to have your mind blown once again with what’s happening in neuroscience?

A new study from researchers at Indiana University Bloomington shows that lab-grown human brain cells are capable of computing – and that biocomputing, a field mostly relegated to the realm of scifi, could be right around the corner.

The researchers actually managed to connect lab-grown human brain cells to a computer chip and have that chip carry various tasks, including speech recognition.

Also read: ALS Patient Using A Brain Implant Manages A Record-Breaking 62 Words Per Minute Communication Speed

From a report in MIT Technology Review:

“This is a first demonstration of using brain organoids [for computing],” says Guo. “It’s exciting to see the possibilities of organoids for biocomputing in the future.” With Brainoware, Guo aimed to use actual brain cells to send and receive information. When the researchers applied electrical stimulation to the hybrid system they’d built, Brainoware responded to those signals, and changes occurred in its neural networks. According to the researchers, this result suggests that the hybrid system did process information, and could perhaps even perform computing tasks without supervision. Guo and his colleagues then attempted to see if Brainoware could perform any useful tasks. In one test, they used Brainoware to try to solve mathematical equations. They also gave it a benchmark test for speech recognition, using 240 audio clips of eight people pronouncing Japanese vowels. The clips were converted into electrical signals and applied to the Brainoware system. This generated signals in the neural networks of the brain organoid, which were then fed into an AI tool for decoding. “

Unfortunately however, although their bio-system could be trained to improve its accuracy, it was still less accurate than artificial neural networks. 

You can read their paper in Nature.

Image credit David Baillot/UC San Diego: a photo accompanying the announcement that human brain organoids implanted into mouse cortex responded to visual stimuli for the first time.

Also read: Brain-mapping Breakthrough: The Beautiful Brain of a Fruit Fly Larva Brain Now Fully Mapped

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