Researchers from University College London (UCL) are working on a project with the lofty goal of analyzing the entirety of a brain’s neuronal activity in real time. Most estimates place the number of neurons in the average brain somewhere between 70 and 100 billion. Trying to record all of the relevant activity in one brain as it occurs will be difficult enough, but beyond that, the UCL team is planning to employ considerable processing power towards deciphering the meaning of each firing synapse.
NeuroPixels, as the prototype probes are being called, are the width of a human hair and can monitor hundreds of neurons at once over multiple regions of the brain while simultaneously digitizing the signal on-board and sending the information to a database. Developed in collaboration with a consortium of leading non-profit organizations in neuroscience, these super-sensitive electrode sensors are already being studied in mice models, and are expected to be available for purchase by research labs in mid-2018. The researchers are already in the process of developing the next generations of these sensors.