Researchers Create Artificial Memory Aid

Some engineers from The University of Southern California (good football program) and Wake Forest (good basketball program) have been tinkering with rats’ brains. First, they got them to learn how to get water from a machine, then they broke their hippocampus — which creates long-term memories from short-term ones. The rats didn’t know how to get water anymore, but it was clear the problem was just long-term memory. They kinda knew something, but they couldn’t get the steps down because of the memory problem. So then — and here is where it gets good — they made an artificial hippocampus, hooked the rats up to it, and voilà: the rats knew how to get water again. They then hooked up undamaged rats to the artificial hippocampus and their memory also got a little better.

Photo by Sarah Fleming

 

Their next step is to try this out on monkeys, but the hope is that a couple of decades into the future, they can create a prosthetic device for people — kind of like a pacemaker, but for memories. People with drain bamage, like Alzheimer’s patients, stroke victims, etc would just get it installed and their memories would work again. Hopefully they won’t look too silly.

From The Journal of Neural Engineering, via gizmag and Slashdot

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