Tiny changes in the way electrical signals move through neurons are the basis of learning and memory–and of many brain pathologies. But it has been difficult for neuroscientists to observe these changes in much detail. Now, researchers at Harvard University have created a tool with unmatched sensitivity: silicon nanowires that amplify very small electrical signals from as many as 50 places on a single neuron. Existing methods can pick up signals from only one or two places.
Chemist Charles Lieber and coworkers assemble nanowires on a silicon chip, deposit electrical leads that connect to them, and add protein molecules that promote and control neuron growth. Finally, they seed the chip with rat neurons and wait four to ten days for them to grow. The proteins provide a path for the neuron’s growth along the chip, ensuring that it makes contact with the nanowires. The technology could eventually help brain scientists understand the underpinnings of learning, memory, and disease.
This startup wants to copy you into an embryo for organ harvesting
With plans to create realistic synthetic embryos, grown in jars, Renewal Bio is on a journey to the horizon of science and ethics.
VR is as good as psychedelics at helping people reach transcendence
On key metrics, a VR experience elicited a response indistinguishable from subjects who took medium doses of LSD or magic mushrooms.
This artist is dominating AI-generated art. And he’s not happy about it.
Greg Rutkowski is a more popular prompt than Picasso.
This nanoparticle could be the key to a universal covid vaccine
Ending the covid pandemic might well require a vaccine that protects against any new strains. Researchers may have found a strategy that will work.
Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review
Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.