For more than a decade, University of Southern California neuro-engineer Theodore Berger has been working on an artificial hippocampus, an electronic aid for the part of the brain that scientists believe
encodes experiences as long-term memories. Now Berger and a new startup called Kernel are confident that the device is ready for prime time.
"We’re testing it in humans now, and getting good initial results,” Berger told IEEE Spectrum. “We’re going to go forward with the goal of commercializing this prosthesis.”
In Berger’s approach, electrodes in the hippocampus first record electrical signals from certain neurons as they learn something new and encode the memory. These electrical signals are the result of neurons “firing” in specific patterns. Berger studied how electrical signals associated with learning are translated into signals associated with storing that information in long-term memory. Then his lab built mathematical models that take any input (learning) signal, and produce the proper output (memory) signal.
An implant could help someone whose hippocampus doesn't properly turn information into memories.
An implanted memory prosthetic would have electrodes to record signals during learning, a microprocessor to do the computations, and electrodes that stimulate neurons to encode the information as a memory.
For people who have difficulty forming lasting memories on their own, the prosthetic would provide a boost. “We take these memory codes, enhance them, and put them back into the brain,” Berger says. “If we can do that consistently, then we’ll be ready to go.”
"New Startup Aims to Commercialize a Brain Prosthetic to Improve Memory" (IEEE Spectrum)
The majestic image below of the Eagle Nebula’s “Pillars of Creation,” captured by the Hubble Space Telescope in 1995, has become an iconic astronomical photograph. It depicts the visible light, meaning the part of the electromagnetic spectrum that the human eye can see. In this new take above, NASA scientists present the same view of […]
Years ago, I read a bit of advice in The Whole Earth Catalog, which said a great way to get up to speed on a subject you are interested in is to read a children’s book about it. It’s excellent advice, and I’ve made use of it many times over the years. The best children’s […]
Translating abstract scientific data into sound can give researchers new insight into the complexities of the phenomena they are studying. MIT materials science professor and musician Markus Buehler, who has employed this technique to understand biological materials and develop new proteins, has now transformed the novel coronavirus into music. For the recording above, Buehler selected […]
Believe it or not, you can still score a new job in the midst of the pandemic. There are a bunch of industries under more demand stress than ever that have an immediate need to grow. Regardless of the specific role needed or company that’s hiring, one skill that can only help you score an […]
If you’ve ever tried to shoot your own videos, you know the equipment costs to do it right can mount up quickly. Even if you’re fine with capturing video on your trusty smartphone, you still need a mount to keep your phone in place. And you’ll need a mic to augment your smartphone’s not so […]
“The whole point of a programming language is to get the most out of the computer and the developer…This is why I like Python so much…few Python developers write code that is difficult to pass on to another developer.” With so much in tech so inherently complicated, that comment from Thomas Hatch, CTO and co-founder […]