A pilot study funded by the US Department of Defence’s military research department (Darpa), experimented with eliciting memory through brain stimulation. The study enrolled 10 participants who had epilepsy and were already participating in an experiment mapping their brains. This meant they already had electrodes implanted and would not need an invasive procedure. The electrodes essentially work as a coding device for boosting memories. When asked to recall an image that they had viewed while using the electrodes to help boost their memory, there was between 35-37% improvement in recollection depending on whether it was a distinct or simple image. This is the first time memory has been coded in such a way to boost existing memory and has great potential to help those with Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Robert Hampson, a professor of physiology/pharmacology and neurology explained that "even when a person's memory is impaired, it is possible to identify the neural firing patterns that indicate correct memory formation and separate them from the patterns that are incorrect. We can then feed in the correct patterns to assist the patient's brain in accurately forming new memories, not as a replacement for innate memory function, but as a boost to it.” Although preliminary, the results of this study are exciting and pave new avenues for treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.
Source: The Telegraph; March 27, 2108; https://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2018/03/27/alzheimers-memories-could-switched-back-implant/
Author: Sarah Knapton
Date Retrieved: March 28, 2018