Scientists at Tel Aviv University in Israel have demonstrated that externally cultured neurons can be embedded with multiple simple memory imprints that literally lingers on for days without interfering with or erasing one another:
The results, Ben-Jacob says, set the stage for the creation of a neuromemory chip that could be paired with computer hardware to create cyborglike machines capable of such tasks as detecting dangerous toxins in the air, allowing the blind to see or helping someone who is paralyzed regain some if not all muscle use.
Ben-Jacob points out that previous attempts to develop memories on brain cell cultures (neurons along with their supporting and insulating glial cells) have often involved stimulating the synapses (nerve cell connections). So-called excitatory neurons, which amplify brain activity, account for nearly 80 percent of the neurons in the brain; inhibitory neurons, which dampen activity, make up the remaining 20 percent. Stimulating excitatory cells with chemicals or electric pulses causes them to fire, or send electrical signals of their own to neighboring neurons.