DARPA funded Study Successfully Tests Memory Boosting Brain Implants

The prosthetic memory implant recognizes brain activity and helps in boosting short term memory power.

What if you had a microchip inside your brain that can remember things for you? Yes! A chip that will help your brain to remember things more quickly and help you recall them when you need them. 

Some may think that this idea is something that is very farfetched and may seem like a science fiction.  But that is not the case as scientist have already accomplished it in real. Recently, a research paper in the Journal of Neural engineering summarized a technology that could very well be our future.

This isn’t just a theory or thesis as the scientists have already seen success with the experiment as it was done on 15 human subjects. The test returned a result that showed that the patients who got the implant had an average of 35% increase in their short-term memory powers. This was a research project which was funded by DARPA.

Electronic Brain Plants to Improve Your Memory!

The lead study author Robert Hampson said that the improvement in short-term memory with the implant is nothing but “huge”. According to him, it wasn’t the success of the implant in improving the memory power that surprised him, for Robert, the astonishing thing was how successful it came out to be.

The project used 15 patients who had a case of epilepsy.  The treatment was done at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. The patients already had electrodes implanted at various parts of their brain via surgery for their ongoing treatment.

Medical Technology

Experimental Brain Implant Boosts Memory by 15 Percent

One of those spots includes the Hippocampus. It is in this part of the brain where new memories are formed.

The patients volunteered themselves for the project and the test involved them to play a computer game that tested their memory. The scientists kept a close watch on the neural activity occurring in the Hippocampus.

The memory game involved them to recall specific parts of the game.  While the patients were recalling the events from their memory, the scientists were hard at work recording those memories.

For each right answer, the scientists had the data on how the brain activity would look like for that particular memory. The scientists then reversed the trick to give their patients a memory boost.

To make it clearer, while the patients struggled to recall the memory, the scientists recreated the brain signals and the patients were able to remember things more quickly and correctly.

The Results Are Nothing Short Of Impressive

Hampson sums up the whole process as "When we tested patients by stimulating their hippocampus with a pattern that was derived from their own neural activity… we were able to improve their short-term memory by quite a bit."

Upon reviewing the results, the scientists were able to conclude that there was a 37% increase in the memory power for 2-minute trails and an average of 35% for 75-minute trails. These were really amazing metrics said Hampson himself.

If you are looking at commercial brain implants to hit the market, then it will take some time. Again there will be a debate if we should be that intrusive when it comes to bodily implants

"That is going to require some decisions by the doctors, by the patients and by the researchers as to when we put electrodes in and who we're going to help," Hampson said.  "But our target is to help people who have had a traumatic brain injury, who have had a stroke, people who have memory loss due to aging, Alzheimer's or any number of other diseases that can affect the memory."