Reconstructing the Neanderthal Mind in a Dish

Session Date: 
Jun 1, 2018
Speakers: 

The complexity of the human brain, with thousands of neuronal types, permits the development of sophisticated behavioral repertoires, such as language, tool use, self-awareness, symbolic thought, cultural learning and consciousness in a short period of evolutionary time. Understanding what produces such complex network system during brain development has been a longstanding challenge for neuroscientists and may bring insights into the evolution of human cognition. Human pluripotent stem cells have the ability to differentiate in specialized in different cell types and tissues. From these pluripotent state, it is possible to generate organoid models, simplified representations of the human brain. We have been using brain-model technology (BMT) combined with genome editing to gain insights on several biological processes, such as human neurodevelopment and evolution. The reconstruction of human network activity evolving in a dish can help to understand how neural network oscillations might contribute to human imagination. Our findings suggest a potential bridge to the gap between the microscale in vitro neural networks electrophysiology and the live human brain.