Development of more brain-like computing systems; Study of learning and memory in vitro.
From 1999 to 2015, the Potter Group developed new neuroscience technologies for studying learning and memory in vitro. We grew mammalian brain cells in culture on multi-electrode arrays (MEAs), to form a long-term, two-way interface between the cultured networks and a computer. The cultured nets can serve as the ‘brain’ of simulated animats or robotic creatures. We call these Hybrots, hybrids of living and robotic components. By re-embodying cultured networks, we allowed them to express behaviors, and to learn via interactions with their environment. We studied distributed network dynamics and neural plasticity using both recording and stimulation, combined with optical microscopy. We combined functional and morphological dynamics using 2-photon fluorescence time-lapse imaging, and high-speed imaging of neural activity with voltage-sensitive optical membrane probes.