Unsupervised Thinking
a podcast about neuroscience, artificial intelligence and science more broadly

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Episode 50: Brain Organoids

Most neuroscience research takes place in a full, live animal. But brain organoids are different. Brain organoids are three-dimensional blobs of brain grown from human stem cells and they offer novel access to the study of human brain development. On this episode we go beyond our computational comfort zone to talk about the history of stem cells, the potion of chemicals needed to get these little blobs to grow, and the extent to which they mimic features of the human brain when they do. We also discuss the promise of studying and treating disease through personalized organoids, and how this gets hard for higher level disorders like schizophrenia. Then we get into questions of embodiment and if giving these organoids more means to interact with the world would make them better models of the brain and of information processing. Finally we get to the ethics of it all, and find that bioethicists these days are actually chill AF. Throughout, we find out that Josh is not surprised by any of this, and we tackle the pressing moral issue of our time: is it OK to eat your thermostat?

We read:
Brain Organoids: Expanding Our Understanding of Human Development and Disease
Cortical organoids: why all this hype?
The Ethics of Brain Organoids
Organoids Are Not Brains. How Are They Making Brain Waves?

And we mentioned previous episodes/topics:
Episode 46: What We Learn from Model Organisms 
Episode 43: What Are Glia Up To?

To listen to (or download) this episode, (right) click here

As always, our jazzy theme music "Quirky Dog" is courtesy of Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)

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