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A silicon chip that mimics the brain’s neurons could help treat paralysis

Artificial neurons that mimic the way our body's nerve cells transfer electrical signals could one day help patients with severe nerve damage.

Messengers: The neurons are built into silicon chips (pictured above) that could pass signals between nerve cells that may be damaged due to disease, or in patients with spinal cord damage, for example.

How they were developed: The researchers used a computer program to model two types of neurons in rats. The models were translated to silicon chips in which replicas of biological ion channels (which transmit messages in the body) were created. 

Stand-in: In theory, circuits of artificial neurons could replicate the healthy function of failing nerve cells and pass on electrical messages between different parts of the body. 

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