When will we find our Legos?
For many of us growing up, Legos, not atoms or molecules, were the fundamental building blocks of creation. Conceived by Danish carpenter Ole Kirk Christiansen, Lego comes from the Danish phrase leg godt, which means play well.
Neuroscientists whether pickled, ripening or newly budding, all have their favorite choice for the Legos of brain.
João Ranhel of the Universidade Federal de Pernambuco in Recife, Brazil has thoughtfully provided a discussion of the subject on his blog NEURDON. In fact, this is a great place to start if you are thinking about nerve cell assemblies, the topic.
From the site:
The internet, in its infinite wisdom, has simply botched distilling what is interesting and useful about brain-based, i.e. neuromorphic, technology. Perhaps you have come across some tidbits about brain-based technology in your cybertravels. You may have found an article on Wired, stumbled upon something on StumbleUpon, and dugg the Digg’ed post, all the while wondering how that cool gizmo that looks like the Cyberdyne Systems Model 101 works (if it works at all). In an age where Skynet looms overhead one cannot simply go about his/her day uninformed. We are here to help, we are here to explain, pontificate, muse and never abuse. We are computational neuroscientists, computer nerds with a groovy thing for neurons. We are neurdons.
What is nice about blogs is they permit asynchronous conversations (call and response) to develop. Read an article, comment on it, receive a response. Sometimes, this fosters learning. Among the topics:
Brain-Interfaces is your one-stop shop for all things brain-computer interface (BCI), brain-machine interface (BMI), and neuroprosthetics. This section covers both invasive and noninvasive hardware as well as interesting programming, software, and analysis techniques emerging in the field.
As interesting as it is to study the academic research into neuromorphic engineering, it is equally interesting to look at how the private industrial landscape is being transformed by these developments. Neurally inspired technologies are quickly changing how business is being done and are of increasing importance as more data is collected with few tools available to intelligently process the data.
The DARPA Systems of Neuromorphic Adaptive Plastic Scalable Electronics (SyNAPSE) program, started in 2008, has the goal to develop electronic neuromorphic machine technology that scales to biological levels. This section covers initiatives in SyNAPSE and in related projects that use new technologies to implement artificial neural systems at biological scale and power.
Neurdons deny Descartes’ mind-body dualism: biological neural systems cannot be fully understood without their physical instantiation in a real world environment. This section covers initiatives in robotics that represent a step towards bio-inspired robotics.
from Axon to Zebrafish, here we cover all things experimental neuroscience
Neuromorphic computation shows tremendous promise as a complementary paradigm to conventional computer architecture. To realize this potential, neuromorphic devices will have to carve out a unique niche in the computational landscape. Here, we explore the problem, as well as some of the technical issues that must be overcome on the way.
The editors of the site (see below) have done the kind of careful choosing from the hoards of neuroscience articles and news that is so helpful to the rest of us.