Microchip Memories

What if your memories could be downloaded, backed up, and implanted into your brain? According to CNN, scientists from MIT, University of South Carolina, and Wake Forest and other prestigious schools, are saying that major memory rejuvenation has been achieved on test mice and other specimen. Soon this technology will make its way into curing human memory and brain degeneration.

This is not as far fetched as it seems. For the past 15 years, doctors have been able to provide brain implants to treat neurological diseases like epilepsy and Parkinson’s. According to Rob Hampson, an associate professor of pharmacology and physiology, patients’ biggest critique and fears of these procedures are placing large, electrically charged pieces of hardware in their brain. Only about 80,000 people have had procedures for these bulky implants for deep brain stimulation in the 15 years they have been available. However, scientists now believe they can replicate the brain’s process of creating long-term memories and can condense the implants to a microchip.

Scientists, such as Ted Berger, a biomedical engineering professor at the University of Southern California, have targeted the hippocampus, which is key for converting short to long-term memories. Using high level math modeling based off of the hippocampus, the scientific team has been able to create a template for how memories are converted for majority of the brain. Berger claims that soon scientists will be able to record a memory being made in an undamaged part of the brain and then use the data to predict what a “downstream” damaged area should do. The chip would replaced the damaged section provide more normal brain function.

The ultimate goal of this technology is learning more and reversing degenerative memory diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Dementia and alleviate the fears many people have by making the procedure minimally invasive. However, these types of procedures have not been as effective on advanced stages of Dementia or Alzheimer’s where multiple areas of the brain are affected simultaneously.

However, the United Kingdom’s Alzheimer’s Society and others are still optimistic about the advancements. The U.S. military is excited to incorporate this type of technology with the many brain injuries soldiers face in combat. This type of technology could be available for volunteers within the next two years and can be used in hospitals as soon as five years from now. And who knows, soon people may even be able to store every event in their lives in something that could fit in the palm of their hand.

Sources:

http://www.cnn.com/2013/05/07/tech/brain-memory-implants-humans

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