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Does Research Exist on Biological Neural Network Chips?

  1. Oct 12, 2013 #1
    I have seen articles dealing with the growth of brain cells using stem cells. I have also seen, in the past, research attempting to mimic neural connections (using traditional silicon chips) for use in computing.

    I have searched for any mention of research into using actual living brain cells to form such a neural network, and I have found nothing.

    I am wondering about using, as the basis for a neural network chip, living, growing brain cells which could form new neural networks, as needed, much in the same way such networks are formed in growing, learning animals.. I am thinking that maybe a new type of chip could be made for novel applications.

    Is anybody doing research into the use of animal stem cells for construction of neural networks?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 12, 2013 #2
    There was a rat neuron colony to pilot F-22 simulator in 2004 ( http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/10/041022104658.htm ), but I haven't seen anything more recent there ... and I generally don't think it is so simple.
    The brain has extreme plasticity, but it has obtained the flexibility due to millions of years of evolution - leading to precise structures (like connections with hippocampus) and stochastic rules (e.g. retina itself has about 50 different types of neurons) ... you cannot just plant a random neuron colony and expect that it will self-assemble into something useful.
    Much more reasonable (but less ethical) would be taking a developing brain and hardwire it to a new set of inputs/outputs, like to a flight simulator - so it would be the only "life" it knows ... with the proper training/motivation I think a rat brain could be a great pilot ... with similar ethics as drones.
  4. Oct 12, 2013 #3
    Thanks for the link. It was very interesting. I looked and found the original article which had interested me, and indeed, they were growing "mini-brains".
  5. Oct 12, 2013 #4
    Thanks - interesting and scaring. And it is a bit different - just recreating brain development out of the body.
    I have found a paper about this piloting F-22: it was "to maintain straight and level flight" by "rat embryonic (day 18) cortical hemispheres": http://neural.bme.ufl.edu/page13/assets/NeuroFlght2.pdf
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