Brain on chip: Nerve tissue interfaced with a computer chip

June 2, 2006
Brain on chip: Nerve tissue interfaced with a computer chip
A thin tissue slice of a rat hippocampus region (top) is cultivated on a semiconductor chip with 16.384 sensory transistors per square millimetre (center, dark coloured square). Following excitation the chip maps the electrical activity of the neurons (bottom), caused by activity of synapses (red: positive, blue: negative). Credit: Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry

Before informational input perceived by the mammalian brain is stored in the long-term memory, it is temporarily memorised in the hippocampus. Understanding the function of the hippocampus as an important player in the memory process is a major topic of current brain research. Thin slices of this brain region provide the appropriate material to study the intact neural network of the hippocampus.

Methods commonly used in neurophysiology are invasive, restricted to a small number of cells or suffer from low spatial resolution. The scientists in Martinsried developed a revolutionary non-invasive technique that enables them to record neural communication between thousands of nerve cells in the tissue of a brain slice with high spatial resolution.

This technique involves culturing razor-thin slices of the hippocampus region on semiconductor chips. These chips were developed in collaboration with Infineon Technologies AG and excel in their density of sensory transistors: 16384 transistors on an area of one square millimeter record the neural activity in the brain.

Recording the activity patterns of the united cell structure of an intact mammalian brain tissue represents a significant technological breakthrough. Employing the new technique, the biophysicists working under the direction of Peter Fromherz were able to visualize the influence of pharmaceutical compounds on the neural network. This makes the "brain-chip" from Martinsried a novel test system for brain and drug research.

As early as 1991, Peter Fromherz and his coworkers succeeded in interfacing single leech nerve cells with semiconductor chips. Subsequent research gave rise to bidirectional communication between chip and small networks of a few molluskan nerve cells.

In this project, it was possible to detect the signalling between cells via their synapses. The chips used in these studies were developed and produced by the scientists themselves. The production requirements of the chip described above made collaboration with industry indispensable. With the resulting novel hybrid system of neural tissue and semiconductor, the scientists take a great step forward towards neurochip prosthetics and neurocomputation.

Citation: M. Hutzler, et. al., High-resolution multi-transistor array recording of electrical field potentials in cultured brain slices. Journal of Neuropyhsiology. Preprint online (May 10, 2006). doi:10.1152/jn.00347.2006

Source: Max Planck Institute

Explore further: A robot computer algorithm that copies the navigation functionality of humans and animals

Related Stories

A barrier against brain stem cell aging

September 17, 2015

Neural stem cells generate new neurons throughout life in the mammalian brain. However, with advancing age the potential for regeneration in the brain dramatically declines. Scientists of the University of Zurich now identified ...

For worms, positive thinking is the key to finding food

September 15, 2015

Caenorhabditis elegans, a tiny roundworm, spends much of its lifetime searching for soil bacteria to eat. This humble creature possesses 302 neurons, which may not seem like a lot compared to the billions of nerve cells that ...

Can your sense of smell predict when you'll die?

September 21, 2015

By measuring how worms move toward an appealing, food-like scent, researchers at the Salk Institute were able to predict whether the worms would be long-lived. The finding, publishing September 22, 2015 in the journal eLife, ...

Recommended for you

Toyota promises better mileage and ride with Prius hybrid

October 13, 2015

Toyota Motor Corp. released details for its fourth-generation Prius on Tuesday, promising that improvements in the battery, engine, wind resistance and weight mean better mileage for the world's top-selling hybrid car.

Facebook to test mobile app shopping tab

October 12, 2015

Facebook said Monday that it will begin testing a shopping tab for its mobile app as it works to ramp up advertising and online commerce offerings.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Jul 20, 2008
Mind control 1984-2008 in Shanghai,China.Not a joke!


20%u591A%u5E74%u524D%u4E2D%u56FD%u5927%u9646%u5C31%u6709mind control%u8FD9%u6837%u7684%u6280%u672F%u4E86.
http://bbs.tiexue...3_1.html (%u94C1%u8840%u8BBA%u575B%u7B2C%u4E09%u6B21%u53D1)
http://bbs.tiexue...8_1.html (%u73B0%u5728%u70B9%u51FB13000%u591A,%u8D44%u6DF1%u7528%u6237%u624D%u53EF%u770B%u8D34)
http://bbs.tiexue...2_1.html (%u70B9%u51FB4218%u540E%u88AB%u5220) %u5168%u9009%u9875%u9762(%u53F3%u952E)









http://woody2006....ex.shtml gmail&btnG=Google 搜ç´%




Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.