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Memory loss Breakthrough

January 4th, 2016

Thoua-care-worker-looks-after-an-elderly-woman-414830954-658317sands of people in Worcester county suffer from Alzheimer's and dementia and the numbers are growing at a staggering rate. And BrightStar Care of Worcester is committed to championing the battle until it's end. In the news, it's been reported that a new implant might help reverse Alzheimer's damage.

Scientists have developed an electronic implant to help brains damaged by Alzheimer's retain memories. They hope it will be used to take over certain areas of diseased brains to help "translate" a short-term memory into a permanent one. The implant has been developed at the University of Southern California and Wake Forest Baptist Medical Centre over a decade.

The project is funded by the US military as a way of helping injured soldiers overcome memory loss. But researchers say the astonishing technology could also help to treat brain diseases such as Alzheimer's. Project head Ted Berger said the device is already being tried out on humans.

Dr Clare Walton, of the Alzheimer's Society, said: "A prosthetic memory device is a very exciting prospect, but it has taken decades of research to get this far and there are still many unknowns that need to be worked out by the scientists. "It's encouraging to see these cutting edge technologies being applied to help people affected by memory loss, but this isn't something that people with dementia can expect to be readily available in the next decade.

"If this device is developed further and successfully tested in humans, it could prove to be an effective treatment for some of the symptoms of dementia. However, it will not cure or slow down the progression of the condition."
The new US technology has already been tested on nine people with epilepsy who had electrodes implanted in their brains to treat chronic seizures. Researchers read the electrical signals created in the patients' brains as they conducted simple tasks. The results were then used to create a computer program which could predict with 90 per cent accuracy how the signals would be translated.

Being able to predict brain signals will allow the scientists to design a device which can support or replace the functions of a damaged section. The next step will be to send the translated signal back into the brain of a patient with damage to their hippocampus - the memory center - in the hope that this will bypass the trouble spot and form accurate long-term memories.

It is the first time scientists anywhere in the world have used computers to manipulate memory signals directly in the human brain. Researchers have previously implanted devices so paralyzed people can move false arms and their own limbs.