Israeli scientists have demonstrated that it is possible to store "multiple rudimentary memories" in an artificial culture of living neurons.
Itay Baruchi and Eshel Ben-Jacob, of Tel-Aviv University, said that their work to record information in a man-made network of nerve tissues could pave the way for a "cyborg-like integration" of living material into memory chips.
The researchers added that the breakthrough may help neurologists to understand how our brains learn and store information.
Baruchi and Ben-Jacob used an array of electrodes to monitor the firing patterns in a network of linked neurons.
In the study published this month in Physical Review E the researchers found that they could deliberately create additional firing patterns that coexist with the spontaneous patterns.
They claim that these new firing patterns "essentially represent simple memories stored in the neuron network".
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 40 hours.
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