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 Chip ramps up neuron-to-computer communication

This story is from the category The Brain
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Date posted: 12/04/2006

A specialised chip that can communicate with thousands of neurons been developed by a team from Italy and Germany working with mobile chip maker Infineon.

16,384 transistors and hundreds of capacitors were squeezed onto an experimental microchip just 1mm squared.

When surrounded by neurons the transistors receive signals from the cells, while the capacitors send signals to them.

Each transistor on the chip picks up the miniscule change in electric charge prompted when a neuron fires. The change occurs due to the transfer of charged sodium ions, which move in and out of the cells through special pores. Conversely, applying a charge to each capacitor alters the movement of sodium ions, causing a neuron to react.

The researchers began experimenting with snail brain cells before moving on to rat neurons. "It is harder using mammal neurons, because they are smaller and more complex," Stefano Vassanellia molecular biologist with the University of Padua in Italy said.

See the full Story via external site: www.newscientist.com



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