Neuron devices–little silicon chips that “plug in” to your brain–being developed today tend to function with the idea that electrical pulses can be used to stimulate activity in neurons living either on the chip or in surrounding brain tissue.
The next important step to ensuring a successful neuron device is to have the neurons actually communicate with one another, so that the new electrical stimulation can be processed by the brain. This communication between neurons actually happens by the direct transfer of chemicals from one neuron to the next via very small knobs, called synapses. If stimulated by electrical activity in the neuron, these act like shower heads that spray specific chemicals into a branch, or dendrite, of a neighboring neuron. These chemicals then determine how the neighbor neuron will respond to the first neuron.
Mark Peterman and Harvey Fishman at Stanford University, are working on another approach for neurotechnology by creating a silicon device that contains “artificial synapses” that directly deliver the necessary chemicals of communication to neurons.
Read more about this very interesting development reported in New Scientist.
[ Read the public release announcement on Eureka Alert ]
[ Read the article from New Scientist ]
[ Read an article from ITWeb in South Africa ]