The new artificial nervous system mimics how humans react to light and learn to perform basic tasks. It can be used to create more complex robots and prostheses.
The researchers explained that when faced with external stimuli such as heat or light, people can react quickly and automatically. However, conscious responses, such as catching a ball, need to be trained by repeated simulations.
Scientists at three universities in South Korea have developed an artificial nervous system that can mimic the response to external stimuli. It consists of a photodiode, a material that converts light into an electrical signal, a transistor that acts as a mechanical synapse, an artificial neural circuit that acts as the brain of a system.
When the photodiode detects light, it sends an electrical signal through the transistor. This signal is transmitted to an artificial neural circuit. There, the message is received, and this circuit then learns to respond to the signal by sending a command to the robot arm it controls.
The process is similar to how our eye transmits electrical signals through synapses to the brain, which then translates these signals, decides what actions to take and sends a command to the muscles to move. And all this in a split second.
In the early stages of the experiment, the brain of the system slowly translated the light signal – for this it took 2.56 seconds. After she was repeatedly exposed to the light signal, this time was reduced to 0.23 seconds. The researchers say the artificial neural system mimics something like a conscious biological response.
Scientists note that their development will help people with neurological diseases – a new method will help restore control over organs and limbs.