Uh-oh: Austrian scientists are growing human brains in a lab

Credit: New Scientist

Back in the olden days, if a scientist wanted to learn more about the human brain, he'd have to dig up a corpse and haul it back to his laboratory in the dead of night. Nowadays, thanks to the advent of lab-grown stem cells, there's an even more disturbing prospect out there: growing your own brains in the lab.

To be fair, science has pretty much learned everything it can from cadaverous brains. That being said, growing human brains for your own weird experiments is like signing up for a subscription to Mad Scientist Weekly. But we're sure that the scientists at the Institute of Molecular Biology (IMB) in Vienna, Austria have some sound reasoning for playing God.

"Mouse models don't cut it." That's a quote from Jurgen Knoblich, a member of the IMB team that has been growing these brains. Fine — so their reasoning isn't quite as eloquent as we'd have hoped. But how creepy can these brains be, really?

They're tiny 4mm mutants I tell you. Parts of the tiny brains have been identified as fledgling versions of the cortex, hippocampus and retinas. Markedly missing was the cerebellum, which handles language and motor skills. So these brains, which are exhibiting signs of "spontaneous brain activity," can theoretically see and think, but are unable to communicate. Seriously, you can watch the tiny, malformed brains firing off little impulses in the video below. That's — Kill it! Kill it with fire!

New Scientist, via Engadget

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