A nanocomponent that is capable of learning: The Bielefeld memristor built into a chip here is 600 times thinner than a human hair. (Credit: Image courtesy of Universitaet Bielefeld)


Blueprint for an Artificial Brain: Scientists Experiment With Memristors That Imitate Natural Nerves

Feb. 26, 2013 — Scientists have long been dreaming about building a computer that would work like a brain. This is because a brain is far more energy-saving than a computer, it can learn by itself, and it doesn’t need any programming. Privatdozent [senior lecturer] Dr. Andy Thomas from Bielefeld University’s Faculty of Physics is experimenting with memristors — electronic microcomponents that imitate natural nerves. Thomas and his colleagues have demonstrated that they could do this a year ago. They constructed a memristor that is capable of learning. Andy Thomas is now using his memristors as key components in a blueprint for an artificial brain.

He will be presenting his results at the beginning of March in the print edition of the Journal of Physics published by the Institute of Physics in London.

Memristors are made of fine nanolayers and can be used to connect electric circuits. For several years now, the memristor has been considered to be the electronic equivalent of the synapse. Synapses are, so to speak, the bridges across which nerve cells (neurons) contact each other. Their connections increase in strength the more often they are used. Usually, one nerve cell is connected to other nerve cells across thousands of synapses.

Like synapses, memristors learn from earlier impulses. In their case, these are electrical impulses that (as yet) do not come from nerve cells but from the electric circuits to which they are connected. The amount of current a memristor allows to pass depends on how strong the current was that flowed through it in the past and how long it was exposed to it.

Read more: Blueprint for an artificial brain: Scientists experiment with memristors that imitate natural nerves — Science Daily.

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