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Researchers Develop a Neurochip That Can Successfully Replace Damaged Areas of the Brain

05 December 2017

Lobachevsky University researchers are working to create a neurochip capable of transmitting a signal to healthy brain cells. The neurochip can be used in devices intended to replace damaged parts of the brain.

The memristive chip in its casing, housed in a standard contacting device (for testing the parameters of memristive nanostructures). Source: Elena Emel'janovaThe memristive chip in its casing, housed in a standard contacting device (for testing the parameters of memristive nanostructures). Source: Elena Emel'janova

First experiments have been conducted to transmit signals from an artificial neuron to living cells of the brain slice, demonstrating the possibility of interfacing between them.

Scientists and engineers from the UNN Radiophysics Faculty are close to creating an artificial neurochip that can be used in devices to replace damaged areas of the brain. They have been able to receive a signal from an artificial neuron to live brain cells. Now UNN scientists set themselves an ambitious goal of creating in three years the world’s first neural network of at least 100 artificial nerve cells.

According to Mikhail Mishchenko, a research assistant at the Radiophysics Faculty of Lobachevsky University, the next stage of development of the neurochip is to understand the mechanisms of replacement and transmission of signals from one neuron to another.

"For example, after studying the nature of paralysis in humans, we know that all such cases are related to the fact that our nervous system ceases to function properly and the signals are no longer transmitted the way they should be. By developing artificial chips, we will be able to restore the lost transmission," says Mikhail Mishchenko.

UNN researchers are also working to create an artificial nerve cell. To date, a prototype electronic neuron has been developed and studied in laboratory conditions. Experimental results show that the electrical oscillations in an artificial neuron are almost identical to the electrical oscillations that occur in the neurons of the brain. As soon as a neural network of artificial nerve cells is created, pre-clinical tests on laboratory animals will begin at Lobachevsky University. The tests should result in restoring electrical pulses in the damaged mouse brain.

To contact the author of this article, email Siobhan.Treacy@ieeeglobalspec.com


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