A Cortical Neural Prosthesis for Restoring and Enhancing Memory

Researchers are making the first inroads into implanted machinery that can adjust the workings of memory, potentially leading in the years ahead to ways to restore memory function in the old: "Scientists have developed a way to turn memories on and off - literally with the flip of a switch. Using an electronic system that duplicates the neural signals associated with memory, they managed to replicate the brain function in rats associated with long-term learned behavior, even when the rats had been drugged to forget. ... Using embedded electrical probes, [scientists] recorded changes in the rat's brain activity between the two major internal divisions of the hippocampus, known as subregions CA3 and CA1. During the learning process, [CA3 and CA1] interact to create long-term memory ... experimenters blocked the normal neural interactions between the two areas using pharmacological agents. The previously trained rats then no longer displayed the long-term learned behavior. ... the teams then went further and developed an artificial hippocampal system that could duplicate the pattern of interaction between CA3-CA1 interactions. Long-term memory capability returned to the pharmacologically blocked rats when the team activated the electronic device programmed to duplicate the memory-encoding function. In addition, the researchers went on to show that if a prosthetic device and its associated electrodes were implanted in animals with a normal, functioning hippocampus, the device could actually strengthen the memory being generated internally in the brain and enhance the memory capability of normal rats."

Link: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2011-06/uosc-rmr061211.php

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