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Neuron Network Cyborg Has Memory
Living neurons on an array of electrodes were shown to have rudimentary memories; researchers Itay Baruchi and Eshel Ben-Jacob of Tel-Aviv University published their study in the journal Physical Review E. This combination of living tissue and hardware could lead to cyborg-like memory chips; it could also help neurologists understand how our brains work.
(From Cyborg memory "chip")
Baruchi and Ben-Jacob introduced a chemical stimulant into the neuron culture at a selected location; this induced a new firing pattern in the neuron culture. Twenty-four hours later, they repeated the process, creating another firing pattern. These patterns persisted for more than forty hours.
According to Baruchi and Ben-Jacob, this proves that it is possible to store information in a cultured neuron network.
It's not clear to me how this work goes beyond earlier experiments in the field. In 2004, Naweed Syed at the University of Calgary ran a series of experiments that showed that snail nerve cells on a silicon chip could be shown to have retained memories (see Nerve Cells Grown On Microchip).
More recently, University of Florida scientist Dr. Thomas DeMarse has created a "brain in a dish" that can interact with a computer flight simulation. Find out more in this article - Rat Neurons In A Dish Now Playing Flight Simulator.
Science fiction writer Peter Watts correctly anticipated these studies in his 1999 novel Starfish.
"It's one of those smart gels," Ray said at last... "Head cheese. Cultured brains on a slab. The same things they've been plugging into the Net to firewall infections."
(Read more about smart gels)
Via Science Daily.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 5/30/2007)
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