Applied Technotopia

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And so it begins, perhaps? 3D artificial brain today. Tomorrow, neural uploads?

Researchers from Chalmers University of Technology and the University of Gothenburg have taken the first step in creating a three-dimensional model of the brain by attaching neurons to a positively charged nanocellulose scaffold.

The purpose is to understand Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease better, for example.

Nitrocellulose (microfibrillated cellulose) is obtained from plant materials, such as woodpulp.

‟Pores can be created in nanocellulose, which allows nerve cells to grow in a three-dimensional matrix. This makes it extra comfortable for the cells and creates a realistic cultivation environment that is more like a real brain compared with a three-dimensional cell cultivation well,” says Paul Gatenholm, Professor of Biopolymer Technology at Chalmers.
The researchers found in their experiments that neurons began to develop and generate synapses (contacts with one another) and a neural network of hundreds of cells was produced. The researchers could then use electrical impulses and chemical signal substances to generate nerve impulses that spread through the network in much the same way as they do in the brain. They could also study how nerve cells react with other molecules, such as pharmaceuticals.

(via joshbyard)