Neuroprosthetics: How electronics can be used to mimic the biology in our brain

The human brain is made up of anything between 80 and 100 billion neurons. How exactly these basic working units communicate with each other and transmit information through electrical impulses at the synapses, is a crucial matter of research. Finding out how to control specific neurons may pave the way to a better understanding of the brain and lead to novel treatments for various conditions. Francesca Santoro is Head of the Tissue Electronics Lab at Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia in Naples. An award-winning young scientist, Francesca is trying to find out how electronic microchip-based devices are coupled to biological tissues. She and her team developed a biohybrid synapse through the coupling of an artificial neuron and biological neuronal cells that spontaneously release the neurotransmitter dopamine. The electrical properties of the neuromorphic devices allow for the effective realization of memory states and allows for emulation and interaction with cells. At Falling Walls, Francesca will talk about how to make electronics mimic biology and how this can be further exploited for implantable neuroprosthetics.