Scientists have been growing brains from scratch
A research team in Germany have managed to grow small parts of human and ape brains from scratch to compare how they develop and get a better understanding of their differences.
The researchers have managed to trick white blood cells from humans and apes to form stem cells and grow into miniature and simplified versions of brains known as organdies.
Neuroscientist Louis Reichardt, director of the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative, has said the mini brains have helped scientists to get a much more in-depth understanding of the human brain.
He said: “These new technologies are simply spectacular.
“We’re learning a heck of a lot.”
The frankenstein lab brains can grow for several weeks and sometimes up to a year, meaning the researchers are able to compare how a human brain is different to those of apes.
The remarkable experiments open up new doors for neuroscientists and could help lead to important scientific advancements.
Simon Fisher, director of the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, said: “We’ve been a bit frustrated working so many years with the traditional tools.”
He added: “Now, we have these exciting new tools that are helping us to understand which genes are important.”
Although the lab brains have only been growing for less than two years, already the scientists have discovered that the human brain’s early development is why it is able to grow much larger in size and capacity at later stages.
The human lab brains took nearly 50 per cent longer than their ape counter-parts to undergo their early development.
The discovery could help the researchers understand why humans have better memory, attention, awareness, language, and thought.
White blood cells have been used to make the ‘mini brains’
However, experts have warned that the results of these peculiar experiments do not necessarily give the full picture.
Evan Eichler, a geneticist at the University of Washington in Seattle, said: “It’s a concert of dozens of human events that culminated in this amazing organ.”
The scientists’ discovery is just the first step in understanding why human brains are different to other animals.