Scientists Build Computer Circuit From Brain Cells

Scientists at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel have managed to build reliable logic gates out of neurons instead of wires. The process actually sounds fairly simple: a glass plate is coated with cell repellent then etched with the desired circuit pattern. The pattern itself is coated with a cell-friendly adhesive which forces the cells to grow only in the scratched areas. Because these scratched paths are so thin, the neurons grow in one direction only—forming straight connections around the circuit. This method has been used to replicate an AND logic gate that only produces output when it receives two inputs.

When stimulated with a drug, the neurons send signals around the circuit. "By changing the width of the bridges, the researchers are able to control how many axons link to the neuron island, and tune their device to behave like an AND gate."

But what are the benefits? While there are doubters about whether brain "circuits" actually resemble logic gates, the researchers involved with the project believe that brain-cell logic circuits could bridge the gap between computers and the nervous system. That would give pasty weak nerds hope that they could rise up one day as a pasty, yet powerful race of cyborgs. [New Scientist]