Researchers working on neural implant to improve memory

The team was funded by the Pentagon last year (2014).  It is studying patients with epilepsy by installing small mesh electrodes under their skulls that are worn for as much as seven weeks.  An electroencephalogram (EEG) records the electrical activity of the patients’ brain.  The relationship between brain recordings and memory is unclear, but biomedical engineering professor Josh Jacobs of Columbia University, who’s also involved in the study believes that neural activity known as theta oscillations play a role.

“They are the ones [I] think are the most important for memory formation, and they’re often present in the hippocampus,” he told MIT Technology Review.  Once the electrical and neural signals of memory formation are identified, the team will try to recreate that brain state in patients with electrical impulses.  Medtronic already sells a neurostimulator that performs deep brain simulation to treat Parkinson’s disease via leads implanted in the brain.  The company’s version is less complex than that planned by the researchers, but MIT Technology Review says that it’s not clear why even that device works, demonstrating the technical and scientific complexity of trying to re-engineer the brain.

REFERENCE:  Fierce Medical Devices; 07 APR 2015; Varun Saxena

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