Tell a person that some scientists are growing brains in a lab, and that person might be appalled at the implications of such an idea. However, these so-called “minibrains” are a far cry from the organs we’re born with. These are tiny clusters of brain cells that mimic the human brain structure,  and they’re helping scientists better understand neurological diseases.
Minibrains are grown in a lab from human skin cells that are manipulated to become neural stem cells. Those cells are then differentiated into various types of cells found in the human brain. Like full-sized brains, they form regions and communicate with one another even though they are barely big enough to see with the human eye.
At a meeting of the Society of Neuroscience in San Diego last week, minibrains were a hot topic. Scientists have showcased their potential for the study of neurological disorders like autism and schizophrenia, as well as neurodegenerative …