Mission accomplished: a collection of rat brain cells hasflown a virtual F-22 fighter jet from a Petri dish.

Approximately 25,000 interconnected rat neurons were culledfrom the motor cortex of mature rat embryos and ?seeded? ina Petri dish. The neurons soon formed a complex web ofinterconnections, transforming the collection of cells intoa ?live computation device?, says Thomas DeMarse, aUniversity of Florida biomedical engineer who wasresponsible for the project.

The neurons were able to interpret signals from a virtualF-22 fighter jet, indicating the plane?s movement andweather conditions. The in vitro neurons then modified theflight path accordingly by transmitting signals back to theplane?s controls.

As for all of the creepy possibilities, Mandayam Srinivasaof MIT says that artificially created biological systems canbe much more complex than modern electronics.

Don?t fear, however. It will probably be a long time before?Petri dish brains? can handle tasks like flying realfighter jets. It takes billions of neurons, not thousands,to even begin to resemble a human brain, according to StevenPotter.

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