A neural implant that can restore lost brain function and improve short-term memory in rats may one day help people suffering from memory loss caused by stroke, dementia or other brain damage. The device consists of a tiny chip, a set of 32 electrodes and a very sophisticated algorithm that deciphers and replicates the neural code that is transmitted from one layer of the brain to another. The memory prosthetic device developed by Wake Forest University neurophysiologist Samuel Deadwyler and Theodore Berger, a biomedical engineer and neuroscientist at the University of Southern California, provides evidence that the brain’s neural code can be cracked and reproduced to enhance cognitive function, reports Technology Review.
The implant restored a very limited function in the rodents, enabling them to remember which of two levers they had pulled. While the rats performed the task unimpeded, electrodes recorded the associated brain activity. This allowed researchers to map the neural pattern that indicates the formation of short-term memory. In one test, a nerve-blocking drug was used to prevent memory formation. When the rats were stimulated with the appropriate neural impulse pattern, they were able to remember, if that is the word, the correct lever to press.
Find out more about this research by reading A First Step Toward a Prosthesis for Memory in Technology Review.
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