Monday, June 11, 2007

A Step Toward a Living, Learning Memory Chip

Researchers at Tel Aviv University in Israel have demonstrated that neurons cultured outside the brain can be imprinted with multiple rudimentary memories that persist for days without interfering with or wiping out others.

"The main achievement was the fact that we used the inhibition of the inhibitory neurons" to stimulate the memory patterns, says physicist Eshel Ben-Jacob, senior author of a paper on the findings published in the May issue of Physical Review E. "We probably made [the cell culture] trigger the collective mode of activity that … [is] … possible."

The results, Ben-Jacob says, set the stage for the creation of a neuromemory chip that could be paired with computer hardware to create cyborglike machines capable of such tasks as detecting dangerous toxins in the air, allowing the blind to see or helping someone who is paralyzed regain some if not all muscle use.

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