This recent article at Science Daily details a pretty cool development in the world of neuroscience. By grafting hippocampal cells from a rat onto a silicon chip, the team from the University of Pittsburgh, led by Henry Zeringue, were able to stimulate the cells using electrical pulses and note sustained activity in some 40-60 cells. Studying the hippocampal cells in this manner simplifies having to identify the activity of the cells while still a part of the living brain. The hippocampus is known for activity during memory formation.
By studying the sustained activity in the cells, I am assuming the team hope to understand patterns of activation and how the cells work together when receiving electrical input. Knowing how cells communicate with each other during memory formation could lead to understanding the “language” of memory, which is both tremendously exciting, yet terrifying.