The Department of Defense's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) awarded Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) up to $2.5 million to develop an implantable neural device with the ability to record and stimulate neurons within the brain to help restore memory, DARPA officials announced this week.
The goal of LLNL's work -- driven by LLNL's Neural Technology group and undertaken in collaboration with the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and Medtronic -- is to develop a device that uses real-time recording and closed-loop stimulation of neural tissues to bridge gaps in the injured brain and restore individuals' ability to form new memories and access previously formed ones.
LLNL will develop a miniature, wireless and chronically implantable neural device that will incorporate both single neuron and local field potential recordings into a closed-loop system to implant into TBI patients' brains. The device -- implanted into the entorhinal cortex and hippocampus -- will allow for stimulation and recording from 64 channels located on a pair of high-density electrode arrays. The entorhinal cortex and hippocampus are regions of the brain associated with memory.
The arrays will connect to an implantable electronics package capable of wireless data and power telemetry. An external electronic system worn around the ear will store digital information associated with memory storage and retrieval and provide power telemetry to the implantable package using a custom RF-coil system.
And how would it be marketed towards a younger population if it was initially designed to only help Alzheimer's and TBI patients?
originally posted by: Unresponsible
Any of the technologies having to do with the human mind/memories are more terrifying to me than nuclear weapons. The benefits could be like miracles made real to hundreds of thousands of people and I do think that the technologies should be developed for just such cases.
But I personally want to see even stricter regulations around their implementation than you'd find at a germ warfare lab. This should be treated like the potential civilization destroyer that it is. Oversight, dammit.
originally posted by: Snarl
Manchurian Candidate, anyone?
I wonder if that cost quote was correct. A mere $2.5M in a govt program?
originally posted by: AfterInfinity
Just remember, if they can invent a device to restore memories, they can invent one to modify or erase them. And good luck catching them at it.
"I think something's up with my Total Recall device. I feel like it's erasing my - what was I saying? Oh right, milk. We need milk."
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 learning, they replicated the brain function in rats associated with long-term learned behavior, even when the rats had been drugged to forget. "Flip the switch on, and the rats remember. Flip it off, and the rats forget," said the leader of the team reporting the result.
Next steps, according to Berger and Deadwyler, will be attempts to duplicate the rat results in primates (monkeys), with the aim of eventually creating prostheses that might help the human victims of Alzheimer's disease, stroke or injury recover function.
The paper is entitled "A Cortical Neural Prosthesis for Restoring and Enhancing Memory." Besides Deadwyler and Berger, the other authors are, from USC, BME Professor Vasilis Z. Marmarelis and Research Assistant Professor Dong Song, and from Wake Forest, Associate Professor Robert E. Hampson and Post-Doctoral Fellow Anushka Goonawardena.