Toward the neurocomputer: image processing and pattern recognition with neuronal cultures

IEEE Trans Biomed Eng. 2005 Mar;52(3):371-83. doi: 10.1109/TBME.2004.842975.


Information processing in the nervous system is based on parallel computation, adaptation and learning. These features cannot be easily implemented on conventional silicon devices. In order to obtain a better insight of how neurons process information, we have explored the possibility of using biological neurons as parallel and adaptable computing elements for image processing and pattern recognition. Commercially available multielectrode arrays (MEAs) were used to record and stimulate the electrical activity from neuronal cultures. By mapping digital images, i.e., arrays of pixels, into the stimulation of neuronal cultures, a low and bandpass filtering of images could be quickly and easily obtained. Responses to specific spatial patterns of stimulation were potentiated by an appropriate training (tetanization). Learning allowed pattern recognition and extraction of spatial features in processed images. Therefore, neurocomputers, (i.e., hybrid devices containing man-made elements and natural neurons) seem feasible and may become a new generation of computing devices, to be developed by a synergy of Neuroscience and Material Science.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Artificial Intelligence*
  • Bionics / methods
  • Cell Culture Techniques / methods
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Computing Methodologies*
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Microelectrodes
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Neural Networks, Computer*
  • Pattern Recognition, Automated / methods*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Signal Processing, Computer-Assisted*