Lobachevsky University develops neuroprocessor to help humans and “breathe life” into robots
30 Mar '16
Scientists at the Lobachevsky University (UNN) in Nizhny Novgorod develop a neuroprocessor, a virtual model of an important sector in the human brain. The prototype of a bridge between neurons has already been created; the project has been supported by the Russian Science Foundation, the UNN website announced.
“So far, we have created electronic memristors (resistors with memory) which emulate synapses, the links between neurons. They transmit nerve impulses in the brain and are responsible for learning and memorizing,” said Alexei Mikhailov, the head of a lab at UNN’s Research Institute of Physics and Technology. Long term, this will lead to the creation of an electronic neural network, an equivalent of a sector of the human brain, or neuroprocessor, he added.
According to Dr. Mikhailov, such projects were made possible with the launch of the university biomedical cluster to be formally opened at the end of this year. “The cluster researchers extract living cells from mice, create living neural networks out of them, and study their activity. And our task is to think how to properly connect the living and electronic cells, so they begin interacting properly,” the scientist said.
This is expected to eventually help create devices as effective as the human brain, such as computers, image recognition systems, automated control systems for robots, etc. “A human-like brain can be created on a single chip. And if we implant such a microprocessor in a robot, it will be able to navigate and adapt to the environment all on its own, in fact, like a human being, like our nervous system. For example, when you touch something hot, you jerk back your hand, and a robot will be able to react the same way”, Dr. Mikhailov explained.
“This product will actually breathe life into robotics. In medicine, for instance, this is important because such neuroprocessors can improve the performance capabilities of artificial limbs and exoskeletons, making them more human-like. For example, a person thinks—and an artificial arm opens a door for him”, said Irina Mukhina, PhD in biology, neurodynamics and neurobiology professor at the Lobachevsky University.