Neurons, nerve cells, are the fundamental units of the brain and nervous system. Essentially they are the cells that transmit information throughout the body. There are different types of neurons: sensory, motor, interneurons…now we have artificial neurons. A team from the University of Bath, in U.K. ,used a combination of maths, computation and chip design to come up with a way to replicate in circuit form what nerve cells do naturally. The researchers replicated two types of neurons, including cells from the hippocampus, an area of the brain that plays a major role in memory, and brain cells involved in the control of breathing. The goal of this is to used them to help with certain diseases where the neurons have been damaged, like Alzheimer’s disease among others, however the study is concentrating more in heart diseases for now.
The synthetic, artificial, neurons are implanted into a silicon chip and produce the same response as a biological nerve cells. The research aims to lead to the development of implantable bionic neurons that would help to restore brain circuits that have lost their electrical connection and might help to combat paralysis and possibly diseases. Pretty amazing right?! Read the full research article in: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-019-13177-3
Image of the artificial neuron is from University of Bath: https://www.bath.ac.uk