Groundbreaking brain-on-a-chip promises medical discoveries

It's a milestone for the medical community, yet you wouldn't have to be a neurologist to understand it. That's because this brain-cell-scanning microchip can study human gray matter at unheard of resolutions, yet pretty much does all the science-y work itself.

Researchers at the University of Calgary are no strangers to scanning brain cells, as according to the school it was its faculty that "proved it is possible to cultivate a network of brain cells that reconnect on a silicon chip." In other words, the brain cells communicate with one another in a meaningful way that can be studied.

The new chip improves on others in the field as not only can it track entire networks braincells at once, but it sees the activity in and around cells down to "ion channels and synaptic potentials." What's that mean for the rest of us? New insights into neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

The best part is that the chip is also automated and doesn't require all the specialized training that other brain-scanners take to use. Instead, a team of doctors could perform a study without the need of, say, a technician.

University of Calgary, via PhysOrg

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