Clive Cookson in the Financial Times:
Researchers in the US have developed an implant to help a disabled brain encode memories, giving new hope to Alzheimer’s sufferers and wounded soldiers who cannot remember the recent past.
The prosthetic, developed at the University of Southern California and Wake Forest Baptist Medical Centre in a decade-long collaboration, includes a small array of electrodes implanted into the brain.
The key to the research is a computer algorithm that mimics the electrical signalling used by the brain to translate short-term into permanent memories.
This makes it possible to bypass a damaged or diseased region, even though there is no way of “reading” a memory — decoding its content or meaning from its electrical signal.
“It’s like being able to translate from Spanish to French without being able to understand either language,” said Ted Berger of USC, the project leader.
The prosthesis has performed well in tests on rats and monkeys. Now it is being evaluated in human brains, the team told the international conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society in Milan.
More here. [Thanks to Ali Minai.]