Brain Playing Pong Cortical Labs 1
Image: Cortical Labs

There wouldn’t be PlayStation without Pong, but there may not be humans if scientists don’t slow down. Well, not natural ones anyway. A team of boffins from the company Cortical Labs have created a lab-grown brain capable of playing Atari’s classic arcade cabinet.

In what sounds like the premise to a horror movie, the insane scientists grew brain cells and connected them to the video game using electrodes. These electrodes then communicated the position of the ball and its distance from the paddle, enabling the cells to produce an electric signal of their own, and attempt to hit it.

While its success rate wasn’t flawless, the lab-grown brain performed well above random chance. It’s important to note that the cells aren’t sentient, and therefore don’t know they’re playing a video game like a human would. Still, this is proper doomsday stuff, isn’t it?

The scientists now intend to experiment with alcohol, and see what kind of impact it has on the lab-grown brain’s ability to play Pong. The ultimate goal of the research team is create technology which could be used to help test treatments for neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s. It’s an admirable endeavour, but we’re not entirely sure how we feel about a test tube playing video games.

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