The wild idea that nerve cells grown in culture could have reliable computational function, while still a wild idea, is closer to reality than is reasonable to expect, thanks to applications of both engineering and applied biology. The metaphor works both ways: applications of more traditional engineering technologies - signal processing, electronics, microlithography, materials science - make possible the controlled growth, recording, and stimulation of nerve cells. In turn the goal is to design, construct, test, and utilize - in short to engineer - a working biological construct. This work has progressed to where we are constructing circuits using microtunnels that mimic the classic memory circuit of the hippocampus.
Collaborator: Dr. GJ Brewer, SIU School of Medicine, Springfield IL. Support: NIH.