New brain prosthesis shows potential in addressing memory loss

Scientific Developments/Breakthroughs

US researchers are developing a prosthesis with the potential to translate short-term memories into longer-term ones among people with brain damage.

The prosthesis includes a small array of electrodes implanted into the brain and is designed to help individuals suffering from memory loss. It has already shown promise in early lab tests involving animals.

“A brain prosthesis designed to help individuals suffering from memory loss has shown potential in early tests.“

Created by the University of Southern California and Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, the technology mimics how a memory is translated from short to long-term memory, with the prosthesis bypassing damaged hippocampal sections to provide the next region with the correctly translated memory.

In hundreds of trials conducted with nine patients, the algorithm accurately predicted how the memory signals would be translated with about 90 percent accuracy.

Robert Hampson of the department of physiology and pharmacology of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center said: "Being able to predict neural signals with the USC model suggests that it can be used to design a device to support or replace the function of a damaged part of the brain."

The next challenge will be to translate the signal back into a damaged brain in order to try to bypass the damage and enable the formation of an accurate long-term memory.

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