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Nerve Cells Successfully Grown on Silicon

CowboyNeal posted more than 10 years ago | from the singing-the-body-electric dept.

Biotech 284

crabpeople writes "Researchers at the University of Calgary have found that nerve cells grown on a microchip can learn and memorize information which can be communicated to the brain. 'We discovered that when we used the chip to stimulate the neurons, their synaptic strength was enhanced,' said Naweed Syed, a neurobiologist at the University of Calgary's faculty of medicine."

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A friendly reminder from your local RIAA-chapter (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8337731)

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HOLY FUCK! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8337733)

GET FUCKED MAN THIS SHIT RAWKS@! FP!!!

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...finally... it all makes sense (2, Funny)

derphilipp (745164) | more than 10 years ago | (#8337736)

Plant human cells in an elevator-controlling unit and you'll have the dumbest movie ever.... [imdb.com]

Sirius Cybernetics Corporation (4, Funny)

Rassendyll (680617) | more than 10 years ago | (#8337988)

So that's how the "real people personalities" work. Guess the crowd at University of Calgary will be the first against the wall when the revolution comes!

Kinda cool (5, Interesting)

hyc (241590) | more than 10 years ago | (#8337741)

But what's the size of a neuron vs the size of a transistor in a 65nm process CPU?

Re:Kinda cool (5, Interesting)

Sivar (316343) | more than 10 years ago | (#8337827)

Perhaps a key use is not to use neurons to improve silicon chips, but to do the opposite.

Who knows, in a few decades we might have people deleting their childhood to store and smuggle hundreds of GB of information about the cure for a major epidemic that an evil pharmaceutical company is exploiting for profit.

Re:Kinda cool (3, Funny)

bangular (736791) | more than 10 years ago | (#8337842)

More likely it would be used to erase someone's childhood to store hundreds of GB of sex memories.

Re:Kinda cool (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8337903)

I am sure Ice T would help

Re:Kinda cool (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8337941)

in soviet russia, Keanu bitch slaps ice-t.

Its the start!!! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8337744)

Haven't you learned anything on the matrix?
You'll be the reason of extinction!!!

Re:Its the start!!! (0)

-Maurice66- (728513) | more than 10 years ago | (#8337880)

not so much the matrix! how about Terminator? M

Just like sci-fi. (3, Interesting)

murat (262137) | more than 10 years ago | (#8337746)

"We discovered that when we used the chip to stimulate the neurons, their synaptic strength was enhanced, ... " There was something like this in one of Asimov's books. The guys synapses are enhanced by a machine, then the guy starts to "feel" and "manipulate" things.

Re:Just like sci-fi. (1, Funny)

ottawanker (597020) | more than 10 years ago | (#8337789)

Bah, I just use LSD when I want to "feel" or "manipulate" things.. Plus, those chips don't seem cheap or very safe.

Re:Just like sci-fi. (3, Funny)

krumms (613921) | more than 10 years ago | (#8337946)

then the guy starts to "feel" and "manipulate" things.

I didn't know Asimov wrote THOSE kinds of books :P

More like Ghost in the Shell (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8337995)

This seems more like Ghost in the Shell than Asimov.

How long 'till I can get my own cyberbrain implants?

yes i am paranoid. (1, Funny)

odenshaw (471011) | more than 10 years ago | (#8337747)

why do I feel like this is the beginning of the end?

Re:yes i am paranoid. (1, Funny)

mirko (198274) | more than 10 years ago | (#8337772)

Because you somehow found out a correlation with this [slashdot.org] ...
And/Or maybe with this [acronymfinder.com] ...

Re:yes i am paranoid. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8337819)

its ok, its just the end of the beginning.

Maybe... (1, Redundant)

lemonjus (717606) | more than 10 years ago | (#8337825)

Someone could post a link to the reasearch paper itself ? It would be more interesting to read thenthe news articles. (couldnt find it myself....)

Trick question, eh? (1)

Jack Zombie (637548) | more than 10 years ago | (#8337867)

Why do I feel like this is the beginning of the end?

Because you're paranoid. Heh.

Re:yes i am paranoid. (0)

-Maurice66- (728513) | more than 10 years ago | (#8337906)

it's not. It's the end of the beginning.

It cost evolution several milion years to be ready for this next step.

Now the real work can start:
cyborgs, borgs, Darpa,...

Let's just hope they do not sell this great invention to Cyberdine inc.

I'm no Bill Joy (5, Interesting)

ObviousGuy (578567) | more than 10 years ago | (#8337750)

But this is very exciting. The idea that we could grow neurons on silicon is one of those big steps that looks to lead us into the Johnny Mnemonic world that Gibson was talking about just a couple stories prior to this one.

There is a song that says, "It only takes a spark to get a fire going". So too is it true that it only takes a couple neurons to start synapsing. As these true neural webs become more complicated, it would be interesting to see if any kind of emergent behavior was evident.

Also, with the current political and scientific climate as it is, this could be the first step to replicating a nervous system without having to rely on fetuses for stem cells. It requires no human cloning and holds immense promise.

It would definitely be cool to have a couple of these chips implanted to enhance the base memory that we are kitted with at birth, that's for sure!

Re:I'm no Bill Joy (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8337849)

Yeah, that's what you think.. go read the battle angel alita series sometime, it has a great piece on the whole 'enhancing humans with chips' thing.

-- vranash

Re:I'm no Bill Joy (1)

Lifewish (724999) | more than 10 years ago | (#8337866)

But What about the blue screen of death? I'm happy with all of this as long a Bill Gates goes first on the Windows version.

More seriously, the wole stimulation of nerve cells thing in my opinion isn't as important as the successful interface. *That* is what will lead to brain implants.

Re:I'm no Bill Joy (5, Insightful)

kinnell (607819) | more than 10 years ago | (#8337884)

The idea that we could grow neurons on silicon is one of those big steps that looks to lead us into the Johnny Mnemonic world

No it's not. This involves interfacing with the neurons that are already there.

As these true neural webs become more complicated, it would be interesting to see if any kind of emergent behavior was evident

Given that large collections of neurons are well known to exhibit emergent behaviour, I think it would be more interesting if they didn't.

this could be the first step to replicating a nervous system without having to rely on fetuses for stem cells. It requires no human cloning and holds immense promise

Nerve cells harvested from an animal brain can be grown in the lab. There is no need for embryonic stem cells or cloning at all. Growing them on silicon does not make this easier - in fact they will probably grown better in a petri dish.

It would definitely be cool to have a couple of these chips implanted to enhance the base memory that we are kitted with at birth

Memory in the brain is not simple storage of information. It is unlikely that pluggin a DRAM into your brain would be able to enhance your memory.

Re:I'm no Bill Joy (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8337916)

I think this whole "Interface with the brain" was some clever scheme cooked up by some russian mafia bosses. They have the connections, man...

Re:I'm no Bill Joy (1)

blincoln (592401) | more than 10 years ago | (#8337905)

The idea that we could grow neurons on silicon is one of those big steps that looks to lead us into the Johnny Mnemonic world that Gibson was talking about just a couple stories prior to this one.

I am waiting for the Alastair Reynolds [powells.com] -style Conjoiner conversion myself, but Johnny Mnemonic will do in the meantime.

As long as it's the short story and not the film, that is.

What's the socket format? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8337915)

Ah... a memory upgrade!

I'm sure i would've failed less exams if I could upgrade my brain too

Hasn't this been done before? (5, Informative)

nhaze (684461) | more than 10 years ago | (#8337751)

I thought the Pine Lab at Caltech had done this several years ago. Neurochip Project [gatech.edu]

Re:Hasn't this been done before? (5, Informative)

kinnell (607819) | more than 10 years ago | (#8337801)

No. You're right, growing neurons on silicon is nothing new, but the breakthrough here is that they have been able to stimulate the neurons into forming new connections, rather than just measuring the response of existing networks.

Re:Hasn't this been done before? (1, Funny)

nhaze (684461) | more than 10 years ago | (#8337881)

Yeah I could have sworn they presented something at a conference that showed the different signals they were getting. They even rigged the net up to a DOOM like simulator and let the neural net learn to navigate.

Wow ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8337810)

This article contains more information than the original article.

Re:Hasn't this been done before? (5, Informative)

NeuroKoan (12458) | more than 10 years ago | (#8337854)

Quote from the above link
This particular chip has no electrodes. The grillwork design allows the neurons to grow, and contains them indefinitely. We are currently building full chips with this design, and with electrodes.

Keep an eye out for this page. Once we get fully functional chips, it shouldn't be long before I can show some real experiments and data.


I think the big news is that electrodes were on the silicon chip, and were actually able to "learn and memorize information which can be communicated to the brain" (as per the original article).

Also, the page looks like it hasn't been updated since 1995. I wonder what happened to this project. From the page Maher and Thorne seemed so close to what has just been acheived in Canada.

Re:Hasn't this been done before? (4, Insightful)

nhaze (684461) | more than 10 years ago | (#8337945)

Potter has done a lot of work on the project since then and electrodes were defintely incorporated. He has linked the cultured network up to a variety of output devices, including a stylus device to 'draw', onto a robot to manuever, and a DOOM-like virtual environment. http://www.gatech.edu/news-room/release.php?id=160 http://www.wireheading.com/roborats/hybrots.html

Total Annhilation here we come!! (-1, Troll)

speedfreak_5 (546044) | more than 10 years ago | (#8337756)

Can't wait until they hook it up to a tank. Then we're gonna have some fun!

One more reason to stay away from school! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8337757)

Might as well stop studiying now, soon we can download information directly to our brains anyway!

Re:One more reason to stay away from school! (1)

Foole (739032) | more than 10 years ago | (#8337897)

Yeah that's how I learned Kung Fu.

human computers or cybronic humans ? (4, Interesting)

Gopal.V (532678) | more than 10 years ago | (#8337761)

Will this make computers more human or otherwise ?.

Maybe it's time to admit that nature does a better job bruteforcing (OK , what else do you call SEX and EVOLUTION) the secrets of this world than all our mathematical precision.. (E=MC2 ... Forty Two ... naah... doesn't work) ... Of course, nature did a better job making us humans than we would have achieved ... :)

Re:human computers or cybronic humans ? (2, Informative)

Zoolander (590897) | more than 10 years ago | (#8337835)

Well, nature has had a tiny bit of more time to do her stuff than we have...

Re:human computers or cybronic humans ? (1)

krymsin01 (700838) | more than 10 years ago | (#8337883)

Yes but evolution is slow and the electron is fast. Wait, you'll see. Or at least your grandchildren will see.

Re:human computers or cybronic humans ? (1)

Zoolander (590897) | more than 10 years ago | (#8337936)

Well, that was my point too...
Sorry if I was a bit unclear.

OT: evolution vs. bruteforcing vs. creation (4, Insightful)

q.kontinuum (676242) | more than 10 years ago | (#8337908)

Evolution != bruteforcing. With bruteforcing (e.g. trying to guess a password with a dictionary) there is no "being on the right path" or whatever. It's just wrong or right. Evolution is survive of the fittest, do minor changes in different direction on an existing system and let see which one will lead closer to success.(Just like sex ;-)) Take many of the fittest and do the same again. The some time take some of the not so fit and try as well the same.

On the other hand you are right: This trial and error seems to lead to better results in the long run compared to deterministic creation. But this scheme is already adopted by science. IIRC there was a distributed computing project simulating a robot with a defined task and changing the parameters of the robot. The different clients exchanged the information about the results. I don't remember anymore the name or the homepage of the project, I think it was already 4 or 5 years ago...

Other uses? (4, Interesting)

tanveer1979 (530624) | more than 10 years ago | (#8337762)

We discovered that when we used the chip to stimulate the neurons, their synaptic strength was enhanced

If only they could find out how did the strength increase and wether we can do the same to the human body we can find a cure for most of the nervous system degradation diseases. Anybody have link to a more verbose article?

Re:Other uses? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8337851)

Anybody have link to a more verbose article?


[aip.org]
link to article published in Physical Review Letters

Re:Other uses? (1, Interesting)

Cred (754775) | more than 10 years ago | (#8337964)

Now what about McDonalds using nanobots to inject "information" to our brains while enjoying that big fat El Maco? Great marketing isn't it? McDonalds could teach us to hate Burger King and vs. I wonder what would happen in this situation, McDonalds saying hate Burger King and BG doing the same for McD.

The Future of Computing (5, Insightful)

neurosis101 (692250) | more than 10 years ago | (#8337763)

This is the future of computing right here.

Not making faster Pentiums or Athlons. Sorry. Most of that magic has already been woven. Who out there is qualified to make systems level designs and decisions about bio computer systems? Think about the type of knowledge it must take about physics, electrical and computer engineering, as well as biological knowledge.

What type of magnetic and power restrictions will there be? Reliability? What type of optimizations will exist? Interfaces? Flexibility?

We're still quite far away from having things like this be applicable to modern day but think about when you too can say, "I know Kung Fu"!

Re:The Future of Computing (-1, Offtopic)

TeamLive (699650) | more than 10 years ago | (#8337795)

In Soviet Russia, kung fu knows you!

Re:The Future of Computing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8337855)

Doesn't he own a takeout place in Moscow? :p

-- vranash

Re:The Future of Computing (0)

pikkumyy (445891) | more than 10 years ago | (#8337887)

You are absolutely correct, Dear Sir. Industry will never exceed the speed of the 386 processor.

Re:The Future of Computing (-1, Troll)

Lifewish (724999) | more than 10 years ago | (#8337892)

OT: Kung Fu isn't a fancy name for a couple of techniques. If Neo really did know Kung Fu, most of the things he did in the Matrix wouldn't have been surprising. Punching through concrete: check. Ridiculously fast reactions: check. So many punches/second that your arms blur: check. Even a form of levitation has been reported in advanced practitioners, although I'm not so sure about that one.

Re:The Future of Computing (1)

tdwebste (747947) | more than 10 years ago | (#8337931)

Even though you could conceivable construct a neural network out of these organic chips. The basic structure of neural networks is well understood. So there is no reason to go to this trouble. It is more compact and efficient to construct ANN completely out of silicon.

Artificial Neural networks comprised of multipliers, adders or averagers, and signmod functions and do an adequate job of simulating biological neural networks. With that said to properly simulate biological neural networks, ANN need to have programmable multiplier weights, signmod functions and "connections". Most ANN you read about do not have programmable connections. As a result the designer has the difficult task if not impossible task of predetermining the what connections should be present before the ANN is fabricated. Its kind of like a child being born to only do certain tasks. We all know a child's brain is not rigidly designed to do only certain tasks, but rather neural connections form and break as required. This allows the child to quickly strengthen their brain to so whatever task they are exposed to, quickly.

The other point often over looked in ANN design is programmable signmod functions. When Signmod functions programmable into linear, low pass, high pass and mid pass functions, the ANN can be designed to imitate a fussy logic processor. These fussy logic rules gives the ANN a good starting point to begin training. The issue is training needs to continue throughout the ANN operation to accommodate for variations of the controlled system an the ANN itself. High density ANN are essential analog devices, whose characteristics will change over time and portions will fail. Accommodating for the fact that portions of the ANN will fail is another reason why the connections must be programmable.

ANN can be designed out of binary systems, but are much simpler when designed as ternary logic systems "base 2". "2^2 or 2^3 or 2^4 etc" In these ternary systems 2's complement operations apply. One of the reasons "base 2" systems are so successful is that every logic gate drives the signal to a low or high value. Such quantization must also exist in a ternary logic system. Ternary logic systems can be designed to work using charge, or standing waves. Standing waves are added and subtracted via constructive and destructive interference. Charge is probably the easier at this time. However in the future quantum effect ANN would most definitely use waves.

Re:The Future of Computing (4, Interesting)

ktanmay (710168) | more than 10 years ago | (#8337943)

You know I had read somewhere that our brains (individual processes) run at around 200MHz (as it is all electro-chemically done), now if you say that we have hundreds of billions of neurons, so do we have billions of transistors on chips.
The difference here is that our brains use the 3rd dimension effectively (and also work in parallel, I think). Now I'm not sure if the latest breakthrough uses electro-chemical processes to communicate, but if it's faster than 200MHz, it definitely has huge potential.

Re:The Future of Computing (1)

tdwebste (747947) | more than 10 years ago | (#8337987)

You are most definitely correct our brains use the 3rd dimension to good effect. However to get around that limitation that silicon is "2D", it runs 5 to 10 times faster. Assuming your 200MHz figure is correct, "I believe it is much lower, must check". So by feeding past results into current calculations you get 5 to 10 times the effective connections. Which is equivalent to using the 3rd dimension to a depth of 5 to 10. Not to bad when you think about it. Also given that fact the Artificial neurons are much smaller than real neurons, ANN could quickly surpass the capabilities of the human brain.

Re:The Future of Computing (4, Informative)

Illserve (56215) | more than 10 years ago | (#8338000)

This is certainly not the future of computing!

The precise properties of individual Neurons are unpredictable and highly variable. Worse, they require constant life support just to stay alive. A 5 minute power interruption to your neural CPU and it's time to go shopping for a new one. You would certainly not want to build a practical computing tool out of them.

Neural computing will remain the domain of highly specialized research into AI and neural computing forever. We may develop neural analogs using nanotech or some other gee-whiz tech, but they will not be true neurons.

Huge market? (3, Funny)

Homology (639438) | more than 10 years ago | (#8337764)

nerve cells grown on a microchip can learn and memorize information which can be communicated to the brain.

The researches have read some Slashdot posts, and believe that there must be a huge market for this chip. There is clearly a need for it ;-)

Magical Transistor (2, Funny)

spaceghst (179838) | more than 10 years ago | (#8337770)

"A transistor located on the chip then recorded that conversation between cells."

I'd like to see this transistor...

fud

I could use a .. (3, Funny)

Kalroth (696782) | more than 10 years ago | (#8337774)

.. memory upgrade implant, specially in the mornings.
It would also be cool with an encyclopedia or even a few o'reilly books implanted.

Too bad it seems to be a one-way communication only, otherwise a spellchecker implant would be cool too :-)

Re:I could use a .. (0)

thursdays (600940) | more than 10 years ago | (#8337838)

if you have an encyclopedia or a dictionary upgrade i bet you will spell just fine. :D

personally, like something like a martial arts or car drifting upgrade

"woooh. i know kung-fu"

hmm... (1)

TeamLive (699650) | more than 10 years ago | (#8337777)

cyberzombies. if you dont know what I am talking about, play shadowrun.

Overlords (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8337784)

I, for one, welcome own new grown organic nerve and silicon masters.

"Communicated to the brain?" (5, Insightful)

penguinland (632330) | more than 10 years ago | (#8337785)

Researchers at the University of Calgary have found that nerve cells grown on a microchip can learn and memorize information which can be communicated to the brain.

While the article mentions this in the introduction, it doesn't mention this happening at all in the research. It talks about neurons communicating with each other. This is a long way from connecting this chip into a living brain in an animal that can still function.

While I agree that this is a fascinating article, we should make sure not to sensationalize it too much. Making chips that interface with actual brains in actual animals, even if they are snails, is still a long way off.

Re:"Communicated to the brain?" (2, Interesting)

kinnell (607819) | more than 10 years ago | (#8337920)

Making chips that interface with actual brains in actual animals, even if they are snails, is still a long way off.

No it's not [duke.edu]

Re:"Communicated to the brain?" (1)

nhaze (684461) | more than 10 years ago | (#8337968)

But the Nicolelis project does not currently stimulate neurons. The implanted electrodes are strictly used for recording.
BUT there are plenty of neuro labs that are working on stimulating experiments in awake behaving animals.

Re:"Communicated to the brain?" (1)

neuraloverload (751606) | more than 10 years ago | (#8337996)

i can see where you're coming from on that. you're right, it does say that the signals were induced, transmitted biologically, and recorded by the chip (i'd like to know if they tried playing it back myself). the recording aspect is important, especially if an article is taken into account from march 12,2003 in new scientist "world's first brain prosthesis revealed" regarding a replacement hippocampus in people(yesss, i'm lame, i don't know how to link. i call it my lucky fin). you said "While I agree that this is a fascinating article, we should make sure not to sensationalize it too much. Making chips that interface with actual brains in actual animals, even if they are snails, is still a long way off." in that you are wrong. /. has posted several times on the joystick/no joystick (soon to be) monkey (rulers of the earth when they figure out how to control microsoft with their minds) brainchipped to control a robot in the next room. one thing just occured to me, if synaptic activity is increased by this device, presumably in an electrochemical fashion) then is it not generating it's own power? then add a dash of rfid tech, mix liberally with the idea of a police state...

I call dibs on implants (1, Funny)

Matimus (598096) | more than 10 years ago | (#8337787)

Seriously, this is what I have been waiting for,

If I were you I would welcome your new ME overlord.

Re:I call dibs on implants (1)

martingunnarsson (590268) | more than 10 years ago | (#8337820)

ME? As in Windows ME? Dude, that's so obsolete :-)

Initial subjects were quoted as saying... (1)

CrackedButter (646746) | more than 10 years ago | (#8337790)


"We are the Borg, all your base belong to us, i love you PHILIP-K-DICK".

Hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8337796)

Great, just what we need, computer chips smart enough to stick themselves to the side of the aquarium and do nothing. Intel must be shivering in their boots.

not much to say on this, other than (-1, Offtopic)

Lord Bitman (95493) | more than 10 years ago | (#8337800)

v00t

mmmm... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8337808)

....chips

synaptic strength was enhanced (1, Funny)

gentoo_is_bogus (754705) | more than 10 years ago | (#8337809)

"synaptic strength was enhanced" What the...? I don't recall this term in my functional neurosceince calsses.

Catching a virus (3, Funny)

ClaudiusMinimus (743231) | more than 10 years ago | (#8337813)

would have a whole new meaning...

Copy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8337815)

Researchers have used live pond snail nerve cells to implement a basic element of neural memory on a semiconductor chip. The team isolated two neurons from a pond snail and placed them on a silicon chip. They electrically stimulated one cell with a microcapacitor on the chip and recorded the signal transmitted to the other neuron. Repeatedly stimulating the first cell increased the strength of the connection between the cells, just as neurons in the brain strengthen their connections as part of learning and memory formation. The chip may find uses in brain research and drug development, and may eventually lead to neurocomputers with living nerve cells or microchips that could be implanted in the brain for medical prosthetics.

would this introduce a new measure of speed? (1, Insightful)

imnuts2 (754767) | more than 10 years ago | (#8337839)

IQ instead of GHz?

very cool... (4, Funny)

zeruch (547271) | more than 10 years ago | (#8337844)

...but I still think Natural Stupidity will outpace Artificial (or artificially enhanced) Intelligence.

obligatory response (0)

thursdays (600940) | more than 10 years ago | (#8337868)

never understimate the power of stupid people in large numbers

This looks promising (1)

highwindarea (732127) | more than 10 years ago | (#8337865)

One step closer to a direct neural interface to my computer, it's time to dump your stock in keyboard and monitor companies they'll be broke in a year.

Re:This looks promising (0)

thursdays (600940) | more than 10 years ago | (#8337886)

omg, i should wake up my broker right now and tell him to dump all my shares of microsoft since those are the only decent products they sell.

Skynet (2, Funny)

Karem Lore (649920) | more than 10 years ago | (#8337873)

da da dum de dum.
da da dum de dum.
da da dum de dum.

Termihuman III, coming to a cinema near you.

In the year 2250, a small pocket resistance of humans find the means to develop an organic gooker. Using the power of jelly to disable our circuit boards, they start a highly accurate military campaign to overrun the machines...

Tron and Tran, are a simple couple thrown together in this all-action, pistol pumping, explosion-full chase between man and machine. Will their love be enough to conquer the invading humans, or will the humans finally overcome the race they created.

Rated 18 with scenes of sex with hoover connectors and frequent uses of acronyms.

A film by Widget Jones.

The brain is a muscle (1)

Progman3K (515744) | more than 10 years ago | (#8337874)

'We discovered that when we used the chip to stimulate the neurons, their synaptic strength was enhanced'

Makes sense, doesn't it?

The (possibly) frightening spect of this is that it may pave the way for artificial lifeforms/cyborgs/skynet...

In other news (4, Funny)

NorwBlue (711956) | more than 10 years ago | (#8337875)

Ely Lilly release the new Prozac add-on for nervous cpu's

Anyone read "Interface" by Stephen Bury? (5, Interesting)

Elanor (130622) | more than 10 years ago | (#8337876)

a.k.a Neal Stephenson and his uncle.

Chip embedded in politician's brain after a stroke - he goes on to be president.... v. spooky.

I would love to see alzheimer's patients helped with this. If it's a genetic disease, I'm up the creek and dropped me paddle a while back.

- Lnr

Re:Anyone read "Interface" by Stephen Bury? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8338004)

YES.

"Researchers at the University of Calgary have found that nerve cells grown on a microchip can learn and memorize information which can be communicated to the brain..."

I got that far, and my mind was clamoring Interface!
Stay away from radio towers.

better copy on story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8337899)


Researchers have used live pond snail nerve cells to implement a basic element of neural memory on a semiconductor chip. The team isolated two neurons from a pond snail and placed them on a silicon chip. They electrically stimulated one cell with a microcapacitor on the chip and recorded the signal transmitted to the other neuron. Repeatedly stimulating the first cell increased the strength of the connection between the cells, just as neurons in the brain strengthen their connections as part of learning and memory formation. The chip may find uses in brain research and drug development, and may eventually lead to neurocomputers with living nerve cells or microchips that could be implanted in the brain for medical prosthetics.

I know Kung-Fu! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8337913)

t-he.

This could really upset international politics (5, Funny)

hazman (642790) | more than 10 years ago | (#8337923)

Imagine a U.S. President that is simply a marionette made of organic plasma being controlled and manipulated by puppeteers and handlers behind the curtain - stringlessly AND wirelessly.

Re:This could really upset international politics (5, Insightful)

El Torico (732160) | more than 10 years ago | (#8337970)

How would that be any different than what we've had for the last 20 years?

Re:This could really upset international politics (2, Interesting)

dave420-2 (748377) | more than 10 years ago | (#8337999)

Imagine? Watched the news recently? :-P

Nerve cells (1, Insightful)

Avada Kedavra (712991) | more than 10 years ago | (#8337924)

Maybe something can be done about spinal cord
injuries in the future with this technology?

Re:Nerve cells (1)

dave420-2 (748377) | more than 10 years ago | (#8338003)

Stem cells are the way forward for spinal cord damage, as they can be used to replace the damaged cells. This technique is more useful for adapting already existing cells, and integrating them with computer circuitry.

Snails? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8337925)

Do cyborg snails dream of french people?

Another great steps (3, Funny)

Xenobane (746489) | more than 10 years ago | (#8337929)

towards a virtual girlfriend.

Half-bit bandwidth (4, Insightful)

korpiq (8532) | more than 10 years ago | (#8337938)

Quoth the article:

scientists stimulated one nerve cell to communicate with a second cell which transmitted that signal to multiple cells within the network.

Singal up (probably down too, though that is not said). That's a start. Now let me jump.

Imagine how this would feel in your own brain. Even strengthened to noticeable level by a lump of neurons, the signal would still read "beep". Now imagine being fed information through that channel. "Beep, bip beep bip bip beep". Better start training that morse.

Now let's enhance the input by adding more bits into it and running data through a digital-to-analog converter. This is where you would slowly be able to "see colors", one at a time. Low signal, cold feeling; high signal, hot feeling. That is brainable information. You can associate different patterns of these "colors" to different ideas.
But still it's not like you could see any shapes, is it?

Now add more bytes, feed them in side-by-side. That's a feed. At this point, feel nausea. Something is feeding noise into your thoughts, something you cannot possibly comprehend.

Would take a processing system not unlike vision inside the brain to translate that feed into experiences like colors, tastes, touches, then further associate these to make shapes out of the noise.

A long way.

Worth taking, of course, as research goes, but I wouldn't toss away those external displays as of yet. Have a hunch computers won't be the same, either, when we get there.

Future research will focus on interfacing silicon chips with the human brain to control artificial limbs and develop "thinking" computers.

Mostly fun!

Well (1, Funny)

RightInTheNeck (667426) | more than 10 years ago | (#8337947)

Right now theres a lab room somewhere filled with caged chimpanzees discussing who has to take the first one after witnessing buckets of vasoline being stacked in the corner of the lab the last few nights.

Fucking Awesome!!! (0)

mrshowtime (562809) | more than 10 years ago | (#8337966)

This is one of the coolest things I have ever heard of! Finally, the link between man and machine is being solidified. Just think, in 20 years, or less, an amputee could actually get a robot arm that obey's his thoughts. Granted, it's a far way off from "Cyberdyne," level tech, but it's a start!

in other news (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 10 years ago | (#8337979)

In a press release read before assembled journalists, Intel Corp. announced that growing neurons on Pentium class chips would contravene the DMCA, by allowing competing engineers to directly download chip information into their brains.

When pressed further, the spokesman stated that he couldn't be sure, but believed that growing neurons on AMD chips would however not contravene any laws.

RIAA executives were unavailable for comment, but an anonymous source indicated that at least one executive has been admitted to a private clinic, where he repeatedly tells everyone "The chips, they're everywhere! No music is safe! Why won't anyone believe me?"

to paraphrase Alan Cooper (5, Insightful)

erwin (8773) | more than 10 years ago | (#8337980)

Alan Cooper, author of "The Inmates are Running the Asylum" and other texts put it this way:

Q: What do you get when you cross a camera and a computer?
A: A computer.

His point is that from an interface and place-in-the-world point of view, most products that have been digitally enhanced tend to remain closer to their technology roots than their analog counterparts (with all of the usability, and I would say ethical, challenges inherient in a technologist-driven system).

That said, this is pretty frickin' cool, but the double-edged sword presented by this innovation seems both particularly sharp and far reaching. I really hope we get this one right.

"Why can't you use your powers for Good?"

Synaptic (1)

wan-fu (746576) | more than 10 years ago | (#8337991)

So apparently, "synaptic strength was enhanced."

Does this mean I'll need to upgrade my apt-get?

Reminds me of... (4, Interesting)

jonney02 (591116) | more than 10 years ago | (#8337998)

A quote i read somewhere
"The danger from computers is not that they will eventually get as smart as men, but we will meanwhile agree to meet them halfway." -Bernard Avishai

Solution for tinnitus sufferers? (3, Interesting)

hkmwbz (531650) | more than 10 years ago | (#8338010)

With research like this going on, will we eventually see a medical solution to tinnitus?

Tinnitus is a serious problem to a lot of people today, and it can have many causes, from various diseases/illnesses, to noise damage. It apparently has to do with the nerves in one's ear, so would this kind of research, might we finally see a way to actually treat tinnitus?

Until you get T, you don't realize how lucky people who can actually be in a quiet room without going mad are...

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