Neuristors: The future of brain-like computer chips.
A neuristor is the simplest possible device that can capture the essential property of a neuron – that is, the ability to generate a spike or impulse of activity when some threshold is exceeded. A neuristor can be thought of as a slightly leaky balloon that receives inputs in the form of puffs of air. When its limit is reached, it pops. The only major difference is that more complex neuristors can repeat the process again and again, as long as spikes occur no faster than a certain recharge period known as the refractory period.
A neuristor uses a relatively simple electronic circuit to generate spikes. Incoming signals charge a capacitor that is placed in parallel with a device called a memristor.
The memristor behaves like a resistor except that once the small currents passing through it start to heat it up, its resistance rapidly drops off. When that happens, the charge built up on the capacitor by incoming spikes discharges, and there you have it – a spiking neuron comprised of just two elementary circuit elements.