Researchers have developed tissues that can mimic the human brain.

Neuroscientists have created tissues in the laboratory that mimic the human brain. What's most fascinating is that they've been structured to resemble the circuits in our brains.
Researchers, human brain

Japanese and French neuroscientists have developed a groundbreaking new technique for connecting tissues that mimic the human brain grown in laboratory conditions. What makes this new technique stand out is its resemblance to the natural dynamics of the human brain. While fully understanding the development mechanisms and functions of the brain remains challenging, researchers are beginning to realize the importance of specific connections between regions and the circuits they form for many brain functions.

A critical development for understanding the human brain.

Studies conducted on animals are limited due to the differences in brain structure and function across species. Additionally, brain cells grown in the laboratory tend to lack the characteristic connections found in the human brain, posing a separate challenge. While previous efforts have attempted to create brain circuits under laboratory conditions and made progress in this area, the characteristic deficiency has constrained research.

Now, researchers from the University of Tokyo have found a way to establish more physiological connections among “neural organoids,” experimental tissues where human stem cells are grown into structures mimicking the brain. These special tissues are created in experiments where human stem cells are grown into 3D structures to mimic brain development. Elip, akin to bridges connecting different areas of a living human brain, made axonal bundles connecting the organoids.

Researchers, human brain

Cerebral organoids connected by axonal bundles exhibited more complex activity than single organoids or those created using previous techniques. Additionally, the research team stimulated the axonal bundles using a technique known as optogenetics. Following stimulation, changes in organoid activity were observed, occurring through a process known as plasticity.

Plasticity is crucial because it helps researchers understand how brain-like structures respond to and adapt to changes. This, in turn, means learning more about how artificial brain tissues function.

The senior author of the study, Yoshiho Ikeuchi, states, “These findings indicate the importance of axonal bundle connections in developing complex networks. Particularly, complex brain networks are responsible for many profound functions such as language, attention, and emotion.”

Considering that changes in brain networks are associated with various neurological and psychiatric conditions, understanding brain networks better is crucial. Understanding the dynamics of tissues grown in the laboratory can help uncover how these networks form and change over time in different conditions. This could lead scientists to better treatments.

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