For many years, people have turned to electric shock therapy for a variety of ailments—most notably for the treatment of mental illnesses. Now, a study shows that targeted electric shocks to the brain—through an implant—could eventually bring relief to those suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia by improving their memories. Based on this technology, researchers are also developing a prosthesis that would enhance your brain’s natural abilities.
Memory Boosting Implants
Researchers from the University of Southern California (USC) implanted what they call a “memory prosthesis” in 20 volunteers—the first human trial of its kind. These participants had previously had electrodes implanted in their brains for epileptic treatment, so the memory system did not necessitate an additional surgery. Through the electrodes, the implant delivers small electric shocks to part of the brain most involved in memory and learning—the hippocampus. The shocks are devised to mimic the pattern of healthy brain activity and the way humans process memories.
There are two types of memory: short term memory and long term memory, right? Short term memory includes things like the phone call we just finished, what we had for breakfast, and who is picking up the kids today. Long-term memory is the face of our best friend from third grade, whether we paid our taxes on time last year, or the names of the bones in the human body from high school biology class.