With so many brilliant minds (from Elon Musk to the US Department of Defense) exploring the possibilities of brain implants, it seems it’s only a matter of time before these devices are ready to help humans expand our natural capabilities.
Now, a professor at the University of Southern California (USA), Dong Song, has demonstrated the use of a brain implant to improve human memory, which could have important implications for the treatment of diseases such as Alzheimer’s (that can be as deadly as cancer).
Innovative prosthesis for memory
His results on”memory prosthesis” during a meeting of the Neuroscience Society in Washington DC, presents him as the first to be effective in improving human memory.
To test their device, Song’s team had the participation of 20 volunteers with implanted brain electrodes for the treatment of epilepsy. Once implanted in the participants, the device collected data on their brain activity during tests designed to stimulate short-term memory or working memory.
After this, the scientists determined the pattern associated with optimal memory performance and used the device’s electrodes to stimulate the brain following that pattern in the following tests.
Thus, the stimulation improved short-term memory by approximately 15% and working memory by 25%. When the researchers randomly stimulated the brain, brain performance worsened.
Alzheimer’s, a growing problem
In light of the results, this new device could completely transform the lives of people affected by dementia and Alzheimer’s (in which age is the greatest risk factor, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, with the vast majority of patients being older than 65 years).
Taking into account the large number of advances and that we are living more and more years thanks to greater health care, this segment of the population is growing dramatically, which, in turn, turns them into potential patients with dementia, something that With this continuous growth of the elderly, it can be tremendously costly both from a financial and emotional point of view. And the fact is that the more serious the cognitive deterioration of a person, the higher is the depression rates of their family caregivers.
Experts point out that more tests are needed before the Dong Song device can be approved as a treatment for dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, but it can help those patients recover, even if it is part of their lost memory function. , the impact would be tremendously positive not only in the patients themselves, but also in their families.