neuron-silicon interface?

John Anderson anderson at CSHL.ORG
Thu Oct 29 05:22:11 EST 1992

Here are a couple of articles posted on this newsgroup last year.  You
might try contacting the authors for more info.

To: neuroscience at solo.csci.unt.edu
>From: rowland at ponder.csci.unt.edu (Keith Rowland)
Subject: Re: Biological Chip Coatings
Date: 17 May 91 21:12:09 GMT
Sender: usenet at solo.csci.unt.edu (Usenet News)

In article <1991Apr2.164740.28858 at fcom.cc.utah.edu> strohsch at mines.utah.edu (David A Strohschein) writes:
>  I am trying to find information about growing nerve cells on integrated
>circuit surfaces.  The object is to grow the nerves on the ICs while 
>retaining the normal or near normal electrical and physiological functions of
>the nerve tissue.

   While not actually growing neurons on ICs we do grow them on glass plates
on which a grid of 64 electrodes has been photo-etched in an area of approx.
1mm^2. We have been very successful in preserving the electrical functions. 
As for the physiological, the cells form networks of synaptic connections
that respond pharmacologically in a predictable manner but we doubt that it has 
the same physiology as the tissue. I'm involved in the data aquisition and
therefore am no expert in the biology of these systems.
   Anyone interested can contact me via e-mail or by news if they think it's
of interest to all. 
Keith E. Rowland                rowland@{sonne.}cnns.unt.edu
System Manager                  Center for Network Neuroscience
University of North Texas       PO Box 5218 Denton, Texas 76203
817/565-3896,3472               "Gee, I dunno Andy. Better ask Aunt B."

Date:         Thu, 29 Aug 91 13:40:39 CDT
>From: TTCHENG at vmd.cso.uiuc.edu
Subject:      Cyber-ware.
To: NEUROSCIENCE at genbank.bio.net

In reply to the inquiry concerning "the cutting edge in mind-computer link
research" and sources for people interested in this kind of fiction...

As far as I know, there are several lines of research on the cutting edge:

1. Growing axons through computer chips--this is close to the ideal for
   a neural-machine interface.  The ideal is non-invasive.
2. The latest in "Virtual Reality"--creating an artificial sensory
   environment using devices you can wear: a helmet and gloves--like the
   Nintendo Power Glove.
3. Multi-dimensional analysis of neural data--trying to make sense of
   data from multiple related neural channels (think of each channel as
   a dimension and a "thought" as an n-dimensional curve or vector).  The
   analytical tools are just being developed.

My brother (who's working on a Ph.D. in Artificial Intellegence) and I have
been thinking about mind-machine interfaces since we were kids.  We've
decided that the ideal _realistic_ application area is "smart prosthetics",
both of the sensory and physical kind.  These machines would have two
requirements.  First, an interface with the user--any interface (muscular,
neural, voice, etc.) will do, as long as the person can control it and learn
to control it better.  Second, the prosthetic has to be smart--it must learn
>from the user what to do.  This amounts to learning a personalized language.
The advantage of this type of prosthetic is that you only get better with it.

Anyone interested in collaborating?  We need mechanical and electrical
engineers, chip designers, neurophysiologists, knowledge engineers, and
computational neuroscients, just to mention a handful.


In the fictional world (for now) the genre is Cyberpunk, the prosthetics
are called Cyber-ware, some authors are Bruce Sterling and William Gibson.
Also, look in your local role-playing game store for the games Cyberpunk,
CyberSpace, and ShadowRun.  They are full of cyber-ware and neat ideas.

Tom Tcheng (T-TCHENG at UIUC.EDU)
------- END INCLUDED TEXT HERE -------

John E. Anderson
W. M. Keck Structural Biology Laboratory
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

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