The study, published in the journal Physical Review E, used an array of electrodes to monitor the firing patterns in a network of linked neurons. As previous studies had shown, simply linking the neurons together leads them to spontaneously fire in coordinated patterns. Researchers Itay Baruchi and Eshel Ben-Jacob found that they could deliberately create additional firing patterns that coexist with the spontaneous patterns. They claim that these new firing patterns essentially represent simple memories stored in the neuron network.
Twenty-four hours later, they injected another round of stimulants at a new location, and a third firing pattern emerged. The three memory patterns persisted, without interfering with each other, for over forty hours.
In addition to producing the first chemically operated neuro-memory chip, the researchers propose that their work implies that chemical stimulation may be crucial to learning and memory formation in living organisms.