Swedish researchers have made a fully functional artificial neuron, one that can communicate with flesh-and-blood neurons seamlessly. The neuron, built by a team at the Karolinska Institutet, picks up chemical signals from organic neurons, converts them into electrical signals, and retransmits them as chemical at the other end. It could lead the way to new brain therapies to help people with neurological damage regain brain function.
There's one big problem the device must overcome before it can propel us further into cybernetic frontiers, and that is size. An organic neuron in the brain is 1 micron, or 0.1 of a millimeter, across. (About 1/20,000th of an inch, if you prefer American measurements.) The artificial neuron is the size of a finger tip. But the results, published in , demonstrate a promising new technology that could go a long way toward innovative brain therapies. Or Skynet.