New Breakthrough Work Involving AI and Neuroscience – Can Spinal Cord Injury Be Treated?

  • The new technology mimmics the voltage of live neurons.
  • The AI technology is not software based.
  • The artificial neurons can stay stable in contact with biological fluids, which is important for the medical community.

Breakthrough new research became available on April 20 discussing how neuroscientists created artificial neurons from protein strands to behave like live ones. Neurons are the nerve cells and nerve fibers that are electrically excitable cells in the nervous system that function to process and transmit information. In vertebrate animals, neurons are the core components of the brain, spinal cord and peripheral nerves.

The diagram of the proposal of catalyzing bio-voltage memristors.

The full research paper is titled “Bioinspired bio-voltage memristors.”

A memristor is a non-linear two-terminal electrical component relating electric charge and magnetic flux linkage. It was described and named in 1971 by Leon Chua, completing a theoretical quartet of fundamental electrical components which comprises the resistor, capacitor and inductor.

This advance could mean it would be possible to use artificial neurons and fuse them with live ones in the future, allowing science to easily treat spinal cord injuries and paralyzed people. Progress in artificial intelligence could also lead to energy efficient machines powered by AI in the future.

Scientists may also be able to achieve full stability in biological fluids, which would be an important feature for the medical community.

Memristor diagram.

There is previous work that was published in March connecting live cells with artificial ones. The Internet aided in the creation of a virtual brain using actual live nerve cells. This breakthrough and novel project was created with collaboration from Italian, Swiss and British scientists. The artificial neurons came from Switzerland, electronic interneuron connection from the UK and the live nerve cells from Italy. All these were amalgamated into one functioning system. It means that a live nervous system can be collaborated with the technology into one.

The neural networks will be controlled via a regular laptop and can be used, in specially designed devices tailored to the patients and their needs, to compensate for the non functioning live neurons. It is highly plausible artificial neurons will be manufactured for wide use in neurological cases.

Diagram of the protein-nanowire devices and memristive switching.

The researchers assembled a memristor from protein nanofibers and a thin silver wire. Electrical impulses were passed through the latter. As a result, the device created new branches and fiber connections that are hundreds of times thinner than a human contains. According to the diagram (available open source), the specifics of the work include the ability of  the Geobacter sulfurreducens proteins to chemically reduce metals, hence the  microbes get energy.

Authors of the work emphasize that the device they created does not have a software application, but the system operates at z 0.04-0.1 volts. This is very close to the voltage that a live neuron utilizes for energy.

The next step is to start testing these artificial neurons to connect with live ones. Obviously, there is a lot of work ahead before the research can enter trials and even be approved.

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Christina Kitova

I spent most of my professional life in finance, insurance risk management litigation.

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