Now, a professor from theUniversity of Southern California has demonstrated the use of a brain implant to improve the human memory, and the device could have major implications for the treatment of one of the US’s deadliest diseases.
Dong Song is a research associate professor of biomedical engineering at USC, and he recently presented his findings on a “Memory prosthesis” during a meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in Washington D.C. According to a New Scientist report, the device is the first to effectively improve the human memory.
Once implanted in the volunteers, Song’s device could collect data on their brain activity during tests designed to stimulate either short-term memory or working memory.
The researchers then determined the pattern associated with optimal memory performance and used the device’s electrodes to stimulate the brain following that pattern during later tests.
Based on their research, such stimulation improved short-term memory by roughly 15 percent and working memory by about 25 percent.
While a better memory could be useful for students cramming for tests or those of us with trouble remembering names, it could be absolutely life-changing for people affected by dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Of course, further testing is required before Song’s device could be approved as a treatment for dementia or Alzheimer’s, but if it is able to help those patients regain even part of their lost memory function, the impact would be felt not only by the patients themselves, but their families and even the economy at large.