IBM, with help from DARPA, has built two working prototypes of a "neurosynaptic chip." Based on the neurons and synapses of the brain, these first-generation cognitive computing cores could represent a major leap in power, speed and efficiency
When it comes to studying human consciousness, techniques can range from the objectively scientific to the pseudo-scientific to the very abstract. After all, the complex processes happening inside the human brain are very hard to observe and define.
It’s not artificial intelligence in the Turing test sense, but the technicolor ring you see above is actually an artificial microbrain, derived from rat brain cells--just 40 to 60 neurons in total--that is capable of about 12 seconds of short-term memory.
Retinal implants can let blind people see, but to be truly effective, they should be adapted to the human eye’s unique structure, according to one researcher. Tiny clusters of material that self-assemble into fractals could help with this, strengthening the connections between an implant and a patient’s healthy neurons.
We’ve already seen how magnets hovering close to a person’s head can affect speech, behavior and learning patterns. Now it appears zapping your brain with a 9-volt battery will make you better at video games, at least according to one researcher. Don’t try this yourself, though.
Adding newborn brain cells to an aging brain can improve memory and decision-making, according to a new study. Adult mice with newborn neurons in the hippocampus, which governs memory and learning, were better able to distinguish between similar events and make better-informed choices. Combined with exercise over a period of time, adding new neurons even had anti-depressant effects, the study says.
Paralysis patients could play music with their minds, using a new brain-control interface that senses brain impulses and translates them into musical notes.
Users must teach themselves how to associate brain signals with specific tasks, causing neuronal activity that the brain scanners can pick up. Then they can make music.
Using a combination of microscopy methods, Harvard researchers have untangled part of the circuitry of the cerebral cortex, illuminating brain connections in 3-D. A new neural circuit model will allow researchers to crawl through the individual connections in a neural network.
In a major breakthrough for Alzheimer’s research, scientists have turned human embryonic stem cells and skin cells into brain cells associated with memory and learning, whose death is key to the progression of the disease. The finding could help scientists test new ways to keep the cells from dying, and could someday lead to lab-grown stockpiles that could be implanted into the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.
In 2007, Harvard scientists figured out how to combine fluorescent proteins to create an entire color palette, and then used it to make mouse neurons glow so they could be traced through the brain. The “Brainbow” technique has helped scientists follow neurons’ connections, which had been almost impossible to untangle.