Jun 232016
 

South Korean scientists from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Pohang University of Science and Technology appear to have cleared the largest obstacle to the feasibility of building brain-like computers: power consumption. In their paper “Organic core-sheath nanowire artificial synapses with femtojoule energy consumption,” published in the June 17th edition of Science Advances, the researchers describe how they use organic nanowire (ONW) to build synaptic transistors (STs) whose power consumption is almost one-tenth of the real thing.

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May 082016
 

As I covered previously in “Introduction to Neural Networks,” artificial neural networks (ANN) are simplified representations of biological neural networks in which the basic computational unit known as an artificial neuron, or node, represents its biological counterpart, the neuron. In order to understand how neural networks can be taught to identify and classify, it is first necessary to explore the characteristics and functionality of the basic building block itself, the node.

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Mar 102016
 

neural network

Modeled after observed biology and behavior within the brain, neural networks are arguably the most popular of the biologically inspired AI methods. Neural networks excel at pattern recognition and classification tasks including facial, speech, and handwriting recognition. They also often play a central role in video game character AI.
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Mar 272006
 

Both LiveScience.com and New Scientist are reporting today that a team of Italian and German neuroscientists working in conjunction with mobile chip maker Infineon have created a “neuro-chip,” a hybrid microchip that interfaces living neurons with traditional silicon circuitry. In addition to providing new insights into the brain’s inner workings, the groundbreaking work could one day lead to organic computers that use living brain cells for memory or to the creation of prosthetic devices for treating neurological disorders.

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Feb 242006
 

According to a study published recently in Nature, neurons firing synchronously help to focus the brain’s attention on certain tasks and lead to quicker response times. When neurons fire independently their electrical output is nothing but noise, and no coherent signal is discernible in the static. When even a few neurons fire synchronously, their individual signals reinforce one another, and a tone arises from the background noise. The study, a collaboration between Robert Desimone, from the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT, and researchers at Radboud University in the Netherlands, expands on previous work by Desimone which concluded that neurons fired synchronously during periods of concentration. The new experiments indicate that neural synchronization also helps the brain detect and react quickly to events.

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Jan 202006
 

It happens automatically and so quickly that most people probably never question the process of vision. Although it starts with the eyes, the majority of the work is performed in stages by cooperating layers of neural regions in the brain. As such, the underlying mechanism behind seeing and recognizing objects has long been of interest to neuroscientists. A team of researchers from The Johns Hopkins University’s Zanvyl Krieger Mind/Brain Institute have published a report in a recent issue of the journal Neuron describing the advances they have made towards understanding the process.

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Jan 132006
 

Neuroscientists have never fully understood how new adult brain cells are able to traverse the relatively long distances they need to cover in order to reach their final locations within the brain. LiveScience.com is reporting today that a recent study of mouse brains co-authored by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco sheds some light on the important role that cilia play in brain cell migration.

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Jan 062006
 

Astrocytes, also known as astroglia, are star-shaped cells in the brain whose function and importance has never been fully understood by neuroscientists. Once thought to be housekeeping cells under the control of neurons, LiveScience.com is reporting today that researchers have found that astrocytes can directly and independently perform the critical function of controlling blood flow in the brain. This discovery could influence how brain scans are interpreted and may lead to breakthroughs in understanding and treating brain injuries and neurological diseases.

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Dec 282005
 
Neurons

credit: Lee, Nedivi Lab

Researchers from the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at MIT have recently found that contrary to popular belief, neurons do grow in mature brains. It had been widely accepted that structural remodeling of neurons does not occur in adult brains, but the discovery that it does could lead to advances in treatments of spinal cord injuries and other neural damage caused by accidents or disease. The study, co-authored by Elly Nedivi, appears in the December 27th issue of Public Library of Science (PLoS) Biology.

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Dec 202005
 

Researchers from MIT studying brain plasticity, the reorganization of brain cells and their connections over time, have recently discovered a “backtalk” or retrograde signal from post-synaptic to pre-synaptic neurons that plays a crucial role in synapse development. It has long been known that synaptic strength, the strength of the connections between neurons, plays a central role in learning and memory in neural networks. The scientists hope their work will lead to breakthroughs in understanding and fighting neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s disease.

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