Scientists at Tel Aviv University have successfully implanted an artificial cerebellum into the skull of a rat with brain damage restoring its ability to move.
The cerebellum is the part of the brain that coordinates movements but scientists explained its relatively straightforward neuronal architecture, made it the favourite candidate for replication.
To conduct the study , the team analysed the signals going into a real cerebellum and the signals that were sent out in response.
They then used that information to create a synthetic version on a chip that was wired into the brain of the rat using electrodes.
To test the chip scientists had to take a rat and remove its cerebellum before trying to teach the animal to blink when it heard a certain tone, making trials with and without the electronic cerebellum hooked up.
Results showed that when the rat had its 'robo-brain' plugged in, it was able to learn the new behaviour.
"It's a proof of the concept that we can record information from the brain, analyse it in a way similar to the biological network, and then return it to the brain," says Professor Matti Mintz, of TAU's department of psychology, who recently presented his research at the Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence meeting in Cambridge.
Scientists have explained that brain implants could potentially be developed to try and replace tissue that had been damaged by stroke or debilitating diseases, and even restore learning processes that decline as we grow old.