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Q: status of neuro-silicon connections

Jerry Clayton jerry.clayton at UCHSC.edu
Mon Apr 15 23:26:36 EST 1996

Toby Orloff wrote:
> For a short story I'm writing I would be very grateful for a summary
> (or pointers, preferably on-line) of current research on interfacing
> living nerve impulses to semiconductor devices.  What are the successes
> and failures of this to date?
> Please respond by email.
> Thanks, Toby Orloff
> min.soft at ix.netcom.com

I am aware of only one researcher that in the past was doing something along the lines 
of what your are asking for.  Stan Kater and his colleagues used to culture neurons on 
semiconductor chips that had the guts removed leaving only the fine connections to the 
output pins.  They would coat theses chips and grow neuons until they made connections 
with the connectors and would monitor activity.  The connections were completely random 
but conceivably could be influenced by selectively coating certain areas with selective 
growth factors that would encourage certain kinds of connections or directed growth.  OF 
course these chips could be connected to any kind of semiconductor circuitry necessary 
for the required experiment.  What I have said is very simplistic but has been done to 
some degree and is probably being improved upon as we speak.  Unfortunately, this is not 
directly in my area of expertise so I can't direct you to any current information.  Be 
glad to try and clarify the above for you if you wish or point you in other areas.  Just 
drop some e-mail in my direction.  By the way, Stan Kater was at Colorado State Univ. 
but has moved to Utah so checking out their WWW directory might be fruitful in trying to 
glean some info from him.  What is your story line?  Sounds interesting.  Mixing fact 
with fiction is something I enjoy reading in the SciFi field.  Great Idea!

Jerry Clayton
Dept. Neurology
Univ. Colorado Health Sciences Center
jerry.clayton at UCHSC.edu

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