Scientists connected artificial and natural neurons through the Internet

A team of scientists from Germany, Switzerland, Italy and the UK have created a system that connects artificial neurons with biological ones through a memristive synapses. Interestingly, all three elements of this hybrid were simultaneously in different parts of Europe and were connected via the Internet. An article about this was published in Nature Scientific Reports.

The functioning of the brain is based on neuronal networks. Transfer, processing and storage of information between cells of these networks is carried out by special connections - synapses. Modern technologies allow creating artificial neurons and synapses.

Memristor is a device that can simulate the property of biological compounds: it enhances the transmission of synaptic signal between neurons. 

An international group of scientists has created a system that uses a memristor to connect artificial neurons to live neurons and can transmit signals in both directions. 

The silicon neuron, the first element in the network, is an integrated circuit consisting of a million transistors. This device created electrical pulses, which were then transmitted to the memristor and then through a microelectrode to the mouse hippocampal neuron dedicated to the culture.

The signal also came in the opposite direction: first, the neuron pulses were recorded, which went through the microelectrode to the second memristor and through it to the artificial neuron.

It is noteworthy that elements of this system were located in different parts of the world: Zurich, Southampton and Padua. The data was transmitted through the Internet.

Despite the distance, the network was fully functional and showed the properties of a living neural system.

This is the first network of its kind. The authors of the development note that it can be improved and used for medical purposes: for example, as a therapy for heart arrhythmias, hypertension, spinal cord injuries and Parkinson's disease.

Feb. 28, 2020, 11:02 a.m.

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