A new stage in the development of artificial neurons and synapses has just been crossed. European and British researchers have in fact managed to connect biological and artificial neurons and have them communicate via the Internet.
An important advance
As advanced as the supercomputers are, they are still far from competing with the human brain. The latter is in fact made up of neurons which communicate with each other by pulses of electrical signals, passing through tiny gaps called synapses. And unlike computers, which require separate types of memory for each task, these neurons have the particularity of being able to both process and store information.
Although artificial versions of neurons and synapses have been shown to be much more efficient than traditional computer chips, they are still in the experimental stage today. But recently, a team of researchers, whose work was presented in the journal Nature Scientific Reports, has taken a new step by managing to connect their artificial and biological versions, located in three different countries.
Communicate artificial and biological neurons via the Internet
The biological neurons of rats were cultivated in a laboratory of theUniversity of Padua, in Italy, while artificial neurons, developed on silicon chips, were found Zurich, in Swiss. These two technologies communicated through artificial synapses, called ” memristors “, Which were located in a laboratory of theuniversity of Southampton, at United Kingdom.
Produced by rat neurons, peaks of activity were then transmitted via the Internet to memristors. These translated the received signals into electronic peaks, then transmitted them in turn to the artificial neurons of Zurich. The system also worked the other way around, allowing biological and artificial components to communicate with each other quickly.
” Taking this new step is particularly exciting “, said Themis Prodromakis, co-author of the study. ” On the one hand because it lays the foundations for an unprecedented scenario in natural evolution, where biological and artificial neurons are linked together and communicate through global networks, on the other hand because it offers new perspectives for neuroprosthetic technologies and allows us to consider the possibility of replacing dysfunctional parts of the brain with chips taking advantage of artificial intelligence. “