Building a franken-brain has long been a holy grail of sorts for scientists, but now a team of engineering researchers have made what they claim to be a significant breakthrough towards that goal. Alice Parker and Chongwu Zhou of USC used carbon nanotubes to create synthetic synapse circuits that mimic neurons, the basic building blocks of the brain. This could be invaluable to AI research, though the team still hasn’t tackled the problem of scope — our brains are home to 100 billion neurons, each of which has 10,000 synapses. Moreover, these nanotubes are critically lacking in plasticity — they can’t form new connections, produce new neurons, or adapt with age. All told, the scientists say, we’re decades away from having fake brains — or even sections of it — but if the technology advances as they hope it will, people might one day be able to recover from devastating brain injuries and drive cars smart enough to avert deadly accidents.
Researchers build synthetic synapse circuit, prosthetic brains still decades away originally appeared on Engadget on Mon, 25 Apr 2011 19:24:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.