University of Florida has an Oct 21 press release about Thomas DeMarse’s work in hybrots, that is, cultured neurons interacting with a computer via an MEA to control an avatar in a simulated world. In this case, the neurons are flying a plane in a flight simulation program.
It looks from the press release that he has got the animat to actually learn to fly a plane (i.e. got input about the simulated environment and controlled a simulator joystick to keep the plane steady!
Unfortunately he doesn’t describe what kind of learning rule/feedback was used, so I guess we’ll have to wait for the paper to see how much excitement is justified.
P.S. there’s also a lively discussion on SlashDot about this press release.