A “Moore’s law” in neural recording

Moore’s law is well-known in the microelectronics world. However, some researchers from America found something similar recently: the number of simultaneously¬†recorded neurons has grown exponentially since the 1950s, doubling every 7 years (Fig.1). They have already begun to discuss both the computational costs and the potential for more accurate models associated with this exponential growth of the number of recorded neurons.

Fig.1 [1]

Nowadays, almost every part of the human body has been extensively analysed and studied except the nervous system, which is by far the least understood part and its disorders are the most difficult to treat. But the good news is that with the help of emerging technologies and circuit design techniques, we are able to simultaneously record more and more information from the brain. According to this new "Moore’s law", our neural data acquisition system will be able to record from all of the approximately 100 billion neurons in the human brain in 220 years.

From an analog circuit designer’s point of view, it may be a little optimistic to predict this trend, because we must always make a good trade-off¬†among power, area, noise, speed… So it is not that easy to make your chip perfect in every aspect. However, due to the substantial progress in the amplification circuitry, embedded neural signal processors and wireless interfaces, we should believe that we can see some dramatic breakthroughs in our understanding of the nervous system and in our ability to treat its disorders in the near future.

[1] Ian H. Stevenson & Konrad P. KordingHow, Advances in neural recording affect data analysis. Nature Neuroscience, vol. 14, pp. 139-142, 2011

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