1. Human memory prosthesisThe Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has successfully created what it is calling a human memory prosthesis, a system with electrodes implanted in the brain that restores memory function using a person’s own neural codes.
DARPA has been working on restoring normal memory function in military personnel since 2013 in a program known as Restoring Active Memory (RAM). They’re getting real-world results in actual patients.
Researchers from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and the University of Southern California implemented a proof-of-concept system that restored memory function by up to 37% improvement in short-term, working memory on baseline levels.
The researchers on RAM focused on episodic memory which includes the short-term memory needed to remember where a car is, what someone had for dinner the night before or when they last took medication. Episodic memory loss is one of the most common types of memory loss in people who experience brain injury and Alzheimer’s disease.
The researchers could create a multi-input multi-output (MIMO) nonlinear, mathematical, spatiotemporal model to predict the transformation of neuronal firing patterns in the CA3 region into CA1 region firing patterns. The codes created by the model matched the CA1 firing patterns that happen when CA3 encodes information correctly, which corrects natural errors in the transformations between CA3 and CA1 firing patterns.
After the researchers created the firing pattern model, they performed another image-recall test on the volunteers using patterned, spatiotemporal electrical stimulation of CA1 to play back MIMO-based codes that were obtained from neuronal activity in CA3. The volunteers had an average of 37% improvement in episodic memory performance.