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Neural Engineering System Design och Stevenson’s law, hur många neuroner kan vi läsa på en gång?

Cultured Rat Hippocampal Neuron

För att kunna förstå hjärnan så måste vi kunna läsa de signaler som fyller de neuronnät fyller hjärnan. Problemet är det att vi hittills inta kan läsa mer än några hundra åt gången. Och det antalet har inte ökat nämnvärt på flera år. Vilket har fått det amerikanska försvarsdepartementets forskningsavdelning DARPA att sponsra forskning som kan massavlyssna betydligt fler neuroner än man kan idag.

Adam Piore skriver i MIT Technology Review: Government Seeks High-Fidelity “Brain-Computer” Interface

A few years back, Kording, a data scientist at Northwestern University with an interest in neuroscience, decided to examine how many neurons scientists had ever simultaneously recorded in the brain of a living animal. Recording the electrical chatter of neurons is something we’ll need to do much more of if we want to understand consciousness or develop ways to restore movement to paralyzed individuals.

The result was a 2011 Nature Neuroscience article detailing “Stevenson’s law”—so named for graduate student and first author Ian Stevenson. Similar to Moore’s law, which predicts a doubling of computing power every two years, “Stevenson’s law” also documented exponential growth in the number of neurons scientists have been able to record from at one time. Yet while everyone is “happy and impressed by Moore’s law,” Kording says that “everyone in neuroscience wants to see Stevenson’s law die.”

The reason is that each of us has roughly 80 billion neurons in our brains. Yet what the data showed is that from the 1920s, when scientists first listened in on the electrical spikes of a single neuron, they’d doubled the number only every seven years, to about 500 at once. At this pace, says Kording, “We’ll all be dead before we can record even part of a mouse brain. That’s not cool.”

This week scores of neuroscientists will head to Arlington, Virginia, to discuss how they might go about breaking Stevenson’s law.

Vilket någon gång i framtiden kanske kan leda till att neuronerna i hjärnan kan börja kommunicera med våra datorer, och tvärt om.

Ett mycket intressant forskningsprojekt.

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