MIT geeks build chip to mimic brain cell

November 16th, 2011 - 1:58 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Nov 16 (IANS) Scientists have long aspired to build computer systems that could replicate our brain’s potential for learning new tasks. MIT researchers have now edged closer to that reality.

They have designed a chip that mimics how brain cells’ respond to new information. This activity, known as plasticity, underlies many brain functions, including learning and memory.

With about 400 transistors, the silicon chip can simulate the activity of a single brain synapse that joins two neurons (brain cells) to chat with each other, the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports.

Researchers anticipate this chip will help neuroscientists learn much more about how the brain works, and could also be used in artificial retinas, says senior study co-author Chi-Sang Poon, principal research scientist at the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology, according to a Harvard-MIT statement.

Guy Rachmuth, former postdoc in Poon’s lab, led the study with Mark Bear, professor of neuroscience at MIT and Harel Shouval of the University of Texas Medical School.

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