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Can a clump of loose neurons extracted from a rat reconnect and grow their own brain? Steve Potter, professor of biomedical engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology, is trying to do just that with his research to integrate cultured neurons into a functioning robot device.
If provided with the correct environment to survive, neurons remain quite active little creatures and tend to find ways to reconnect with other neurons. The neurons will begin talking to one another, and their communication links will even evolve based on input from their external environment.
Prof. Potter’s group has developed a small robot that takes the electrical signals from a network of living brain cells and translates them into some form of physical motion for the bot. Sensors located all over the robot then provide electrical feedback to the neuron network after, say, the robot runs into the wall.
The network’s activity is carefully watched, and some level of biological development has been observed. This is certainly a very exciting and interesting advancement in making functional connections between living neurons and computers.
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