In a feat that blurs the lines between science fiction and reality, researchers in Germany have combined living brain cells and semiconductor electronics in a single circuit.
The new microdevice, which uses snail neurons because they are conveniently large, represents a step toward more-complex hybrid circuits, says Peter Fromherz, leader of the work. Such circuits would include up to hundreds of neurons and may enable neuroscientists to directly probe the physiological processes of memory and learning, he says.
"We want to make a biological neural network . . . and then supervise it, record [from] it, and look at what's going on," says Fromherz.
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