Research mimics brain cells to boost memory power

RMIT University researchers have brought ultra-fast, nano-scale data storage within striking reach, using technology that mimics the human brain.


The researchers have built a novel nano-structure that offers a new platform for the development of highly stable and reliable nanoscale memory devices. 

The pioneering work will feature on a forthcoming cover of prestigious materials science journal Advanced Functional Materials (11 November). 

Project leader Dr Sharath Sriram, co-leader of the RMIT Functional Materials and Microsystems Research Group, said the nanometer-thin stacked structure was created using thin film, a functional oxide material more than 10,000 times thinner than a human hair. 

“The thin film is specifically designed to have defects in its chemistry to demonstrate a ‘memristive’ effect – where the memory element’s behaviour is dependent on its past experiences,” Dr Sriram said.

“With flash memory rapidly approaching fundamental scaling limits, we need novel materials and architectures for creating the next generation of non-volatile memory. 

“The structure we developed could be used for a range of electronic applications – from ultrafast memory devices that can be shrunk down to a few nanometers, to computer logic architectures that replicate the versatility and response time of a biological neural network.

“While more investigation needs to be done, our work advances the search for next generation memory technology can replicate the complex functions of human neural system – bringing us one step closer to the bionic brain.”

The research relies on memristors, touted as a transformational replacement for current hard drive technologies such as Flash, SSD and DRAM. Memristors have potential to be fashioned into non-volatile solid-state memory and offer building blocks for computing that could be trained to mimic synaptic interfaces in the human brain.

Happy National Coffee Day! Did you know that caffeine has a positive effect on memory?

Recent Johns Hopkins University research indicates that caffeine may enhance long-term memory. Participants who were given 200-miligram caffeine tablets after studying a series of images were better at distinguishing these same images from similar ones when tested the next day.  

“We’ve always known that caffeine has cognitive-enhancing effects, but its particular effects on strengthening memories and making them resistant to forgetting has never been examined in detail in humans,” said senior author Michael Yassa, an assistant professor of psychological and brain sciences at Johns Hopkins University.

This double-blind study was designed to reveal a deeper interaction between memory and caffeine. “If we used a standard recognition memory task without these tricky similar items, we would have found no effect of caffeine,” said Yassa. “However, using these items requires the brain to make a more difficult discrimination—what we call pattern separation, which seems to be the process that is enhanced by caffeine in our case.”

Read more from Johns Hopkins University »

When the rabbi’s words are too obscure
for my child’s mind,
I reach for your tallis.
I find patience in each thread,
and weave the melodies into them.
Journeying to sacred places on each strand,
my fingers braid the tassels.
Crisscrossing them into paths
that carry me across ancient desert sands.
They bring a quiet contentment,
moments of gentle peace between us.
—  Anita Getzler, from this breathtaking meditation on memory and grief for the High Holy Days.
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“Buzzing” is a piece that explores the dichotomous nature between the innocent and the unpurified. It delves into the grey area where the innocent discovers what her body can do at an early age. It is also a dichotomy between conventional film and unconventional film where we as an audience distrust the narrator. It examines and questions what is true and untrue; fact and exaggerated fiction based on human memory.