Israeli researchers Itay Baruchi and Eshel Ben-Jacob of Tel-Aviv University have demonstrated through
experiment that it’s possible to store multiple rudimentary memories in an
artificial culture of live neurons. This is a critical step towards cyborg-like
integration of living material into memory chips.
To create a new memory in the neurons, the researchers
introduced minute amounts of a chemical stimulant into the culture at a
selected location. The stimulant induced a second firing pattern, starting at
that location. The new firing pattern in the culture along coexisted with the
original pattern. Twenty-four hours later, they injected another round of
stimulants at a new location, and a third firing pattern emerged. The three
memory patterns persisted, without interfering with each other, for over forty
Their findings are published in this month’s Physical
Review E journal, the abstract for which reads, “We show that using
local chemical stimulations it is possible to imprint persisting (days)
multiple memories (collective modes of neuron firing) in the activity of
cultured neural networks. Micro-droplets of inhibitory antagonist are injected
at a location selected based on real-time analysis of the recorded activity.
The neurons at the stimulated locations turn into a focus for initiating
synchronized bursting events (the collective modes) each with its own specific
spatiotemporal pattern of neuron firing.”
In addition to producing the first chemically operated
neuro-memory chip, the researchers propose that their work implies that
chemical stimulation may be crucial to learning and memory formation in living
quote: We may take our brains for granted, but the slow progress in regards to understanding it is partially due to the fact that we just can't go "oooh, what does this input do?" like most human discoveries in the past. Well, we could , but I would not want to be the target of a mob of people, and I'm sure many share that sentiment.