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A silicon neuron


BY combining neurophysiological principles with silicon engineering, we have produced an analog integrated circuit with the functional characteristics of real nerve cells. Because the physics underlying the conductivity of silicon devices and biological membranes is similar, the 'silicon neuron' is able to emulate efficiently the ion currents that cause nerve impulses and control the dynamics of their discharge. It operates in real-time and consumes little power, and many 'neurons' can be fabricated on a single silicon chip. The silicon neuron represents a step towards constructing artificial nervous systems that use more realistic principles of neural computation than do existing electronic neural networks.

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Mahowald, M., Douglas, R. A silicon neuron. Nature 354, 515–518 (1991).

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