Neuroscientists use models of the brain to study the brain. One of those model types: organoids. One way to get a conversation with a neuroscientist started badly is to ask them about the 'mini-brains' in the dish on their lab bench. It’s not that the blob in the dish doesn’t somehow look like a piece of living tissue that could be a piece of brain.
Or that this blob isn’t relevant to studying the brain. It is. Organoids are grown from stem cells that were coaxed to become neurons. They differentiate and grow into a three dimensional object. And these objects are becoming more complex and more dynamic in labs around the world. Dr. Eve Marder from Brandeis University talks about what organoids can tell researchers about the brain and what they might be less suited for. And why they are biological theory.