Researchers in Europe and the UK have managed to connect biological and artificial neurons together and enable them to communicate over long distances over the Internet.
To be precise
Biological neurons grown in one country sent signals through an artificial synapse located in another country to electronic neurons located in a third country.
Of course, the human brain is still much, much more advanced than these artificial neurons. Our biological neurons communicate with each other through rapid electrical impulses that pass through small spaces known as synapses.
And that's not all: our neurons can both process and store information, unlike computers which still require separate types of memory for each activity.
Artificial neurons: more powerful than computers
Artificial versions of neurons and synapses have proven to be much more powerful than traditional computer chip designs, but are still in the experimental stage.
Today, a team of researchers took the next step and connected artificial and biological neurons across three different countries.
Rat biological neurons were grown in a laboratory in Italy, at the University of Padua. Meanwhile, the artificial ones have been produced on silicon chips in Switzerland, at the University of Zurich and at ETH, also in Zurich.
The two different technologies communicated through artificial synapses, known as "memristors", located at the University of Southampton in the UK.
Congratulations on the transmission
The team detected products from rat neurons and transmitted them over the internet to memristors. They translated the signals into electronic peaks and transmitted them to the artificial neurons in Zurich.
The system worked just as well in reverse, allowing biological and man-made components to communicate quickly in both directions.
"We are excited about this new development", says Themis Prodromakis, author of the study.
Artificial neurons, the importance of research
The study sets the stage for a new scenario never encountered during natural evolution, in which biological and artificial neurons are connected and communicate through global networks. It is the beginning of an Internet of Neuroelectronics.
The future of neuroprosthetic technologies find new life. This paves the way for research to replace dysfunctional parts of the brain with artificial intelligence chips.