Scientists have devised a new brain implant that might one day be used to treat conditions that affect a person’s memory, such as dementia. The implants that the researchers have devised could boost memory function by as much as 30%. Researchers from the University of Southern California have developed what they call a memory prosthesis.
The implant is made up of electrodes that are implanted into the brain. The device is meant to mimic the way memories are naturally processed by giving small electric shocks to the hippocampus. This is the region of the brain involved in learning and memory.
The small electric shocks are able to mimic normal brain activity patterns and the scientists are hopeful that the implant could help with memory disorders. The researchers had a group of 20 volunteers that were fitted with electrodes and then participated in a simple memory game. Each of those volunteers was shown images in a short presentation and then had to recall what they had seen up to 75 seconds later.
Researchers studied the neurons in the subject’s brain to see which regions activated when using memory. A second session was then conducted where the implant stimulated that specific brain area with tiny electric shocks. The team says that when the shocks were used, performance on the tests rose by up to 30%.
One of the scientists on the team, Dong Song an associate professor of biomedical engineering at the University of Southern California says that the team is writing neural code to enhance memory. Song also says that this is the first time something like this has been performed.
SOURCE: Business Insider