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Rat Cyborg Gets Digital Cerebellum

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Tel Aviv University researchers have developed a synthetic cerebellum that can receive sensor inputs from the brainstem, interpret neuronal information, and send signals to other regions of the brainstem to prompt motor neurons.

"It's proof of concept that we can record information from the brain, analyze it in a way similar to the biological network, and return it to the brain," says Tel Aviv researcher Matti Mintz.

The cerebellum's ability to help coordinate and time movements, in addition to the fact that it has a relatively straightforward neural architecture, make it an ideal region of the brain to synthesize. The researchers analyzed brainstem signals feeding into a real cerebellum and the output it generated in response. They used this information to generate a synthetic version on a chip that sits outside the skull and is wired into the brain using electrodes. Using the synthetic cerebellum, the researchers were able to teach a rat to blink upon hearing a specific tone.

"This demonstrates how far we have come towards creating circuitry that could one day replace damaged brain areas and even enhance the power of the healthy brain," says University of Essex researcher Francesco Sepulveda.

From New Scientist
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Abstracts Copyright © 2011 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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