News Brief by Dominic Kleinknecht
Scientists of the University of Southern California and the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center developed a device that can partially mimic the function of the memory station of the brain, the hippocampus. This prosthesis resembles the connection between short-term and long-term memory. The transition of initial input signal to long-term memory signal harbors many coding steps that result in a strikingly different signal that forms the long-term memory. If any brain region that is responsible for the transmission of the electric signal from short-term to long-term memory is damaged there is a chance that no memory formation will take place. This is the underlying problem of for instance Alzheimer's disease.
The researchers evaluated the signal transduction and signal transformation, developing an algorithm that is able to accurately predict the eventual long-term signal with up to 90 % correctness. This enables the designed implanted prosthesis to bridge the signal transduction circuitry via a small array of electrodes even if there is a damaged hippocampal section that does not transmit the signal by itself. Whether this artificial circuitry also results in long-term memory formation in the long run has still to be trialed.
University of Southern California. (2015, September 29). Scientists to bypass brain damage by re-encoding memories: New prosthesis aims to help people living with memory loss.ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 9, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/09/150929142524.htm