Clone of A Cure For Memory Loss.
Byline: Sofia, Young Editor
Imagine not being able to remember your mother's name, or even your own birthday!
Unfortunately, this is the case for countless veterans who cannot live normal lives because they suffer from Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), an invisible scar acquired while serving our country.
However, thanks to the combined ingenuity of university researchers, medical device companies and DARPA (the research arm of the Department of Defense), a revolutionary invention is preparing to change our nation's heroes' lives for the better.
The brain's memory process uses neurons to encode, keep, and recall information. Mimicking the brain's natural process, the device monitors and records brain signals, interpreting and saving them, then stimulating the brain's memory centers using tiny electrical shocks. The process will aid in forming new memories and retrieving previous ones. The project aims to boost Restoring Active Memory (RAM) which stores Declarative Memory (people, events, places, figures).
There are three parts to this memory tool: an external earpiece, an implanted microelectronic, and wire stimulator that protrudes from the implant. Unlike a pacemaker that gives continual electrical pulses to the heart, this "smart device" will only give Deep Brain Stimulation when needed.
When the embedded gadget detects that stimulation is needed, a tiny electrical pulse will be transmitted through the wires to the brain. It will then send data wirelessly to the external prosthetic, which will interpret and store the data, then relay it back to the implanted piece. Together these three components will act like a "new brain" for the patient's memory. Its purpose is to restore the function of memory.
Deep Brain Stimulation
This memory system will require expertise from many areas of science: brain research, medicine, computing, and engineering. Researchers from UCLA, U Penn, and Lawrence Livermore Labs will collaborate with Medtronics, a world leader in medical devices, and with NeuroPace (the company that makes neuro-stimulators) to develop the system. This project is part of a federal, 12-year BRAIN Initiative launched to study the human brain, at an estimated cost of $4.5 billion.
Deep Brain Stimulation (electrical shocks to the brain) is already in use for patients with Parkinson's and Epilepsy. Neuro-stimulators have been very successful in improving brain function, stopping Parkinson's tremors (shakes), and reducing epileptic seizures. Detecting the onset of seizures, it sends a small burst of electricity which reduces the frequency of seizures. Alzheimers' patients are also using the implants in preliminary clinical trials to stabilize memory function.
Hope for the Future
DARPA's hope is that this device will benefit its 270,000 service people disabled by TBI since 2000. Additionally it can be used to aid civilians who are diagnosed with TBI at a rate of 1.7 million cases per year. This might help to offset the $76.5 billion in medical costs for TBI treatment. These memory aids should be ready for clinical trials in 2017.
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|Date:||Jun 30, 2018|
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