Silicon Neurons

Neurons in the living body have electrical and chemical mechanisms that let them act together to represent and respond to behaviorally significant physical events. Over time, neurons have learned to manipulate how their membrane conducts various ions to produce electrical events that form a basis for computation.

Neuroscientists are learning about neural computation through reverse engineering. They combine experimental neuroscience with neuromorphic systems made from analog CMOS VLSI technology. Fortunately, the physical properties of analog CMOS are similar to those governing the electrical behavior of neurons and neural systems; therefore, analog CMOS is a convenient medium for building neuromorphic systems.The silicon neuron can emulate the behavior of any particular neuron in the nervous system simply by setting several parameters. Most of the cutting edge work on silcon neurons has been done in the lab of Rodney Douglas and Misha Mahowald.