Monday, June 27, 2011

What was I thinking about? Memory or lack of memory can be a big problem. Like mental illness, don’t show any signs of it. Someone will have you diagnosed and planted in a mental house before you can make excuses. Well, there is hope for us humans on the way. Like all test mice, scientists are implanting a memory chip into them and are finding a sharper recollection. Hold out your arm. You’re next for the implant. That is if you can remember to get it.
Scientists have designed a brain implant that restores lost memory function and strengthened recall of new information in laboratory rats. This is a crucial first step in the development of new devices to be implanted in humans to help with our ever growing defects. Dementia, stroke and other brain injuries in humans are ideal for this type of treatment.
In recent years neuroscientists have developed implants that allow paralyzed people to move prosthetic limbs or a computer cursor, using their thoughts to activate the machines. This new research is focused on improving brain function rather than just tapping into your already functioning brain.
The rats were implanted with a tiny array of electrodes that communicate with each other as the brain learns and stores new information. The device transmits these exchanges to a computer. It is bad enough that our schools and businesses shut down completely with a power shortage, now we will be connected to a computer or we might shut down too!
“Turn the switch on , the animal has the memory; turn it off, and they don’t: that’s exactly how it works,” said Theodore W. Berger , a professor of engineering at the University of California and the lead author of the study, being published in The Journal of Neuroengineering and Rehabilitation. In rats that did not receive the implant, new memories faded by about 40% after a long distraction period.
The scientists said that with wireless technology and computer chips, the system could be easily fitted for human use. But there are a number of technical and theoretical obstacles. For one, the implant must first record a memory trace before playing it back or amplifying it; in patients with significant memory problems , those signals may be too weak. In addition, human memory is a rich diverse neural process that involves many other brain areas.
So, are we to become Frankensteins that can repeat whatever facts that are recorded in our memory chips as true and factual information coming from our brains? Leave me out! I ‘d rather forget everything than have some weird scientist have me saying whatever he decides to record and implant it in my head!
However, If I forget where the bathroom is, or where the pots and pans are stored or the names of my children; this could make a big difference in the lives of someone with dementia. Knowing basic things and remembering them could be the difference between being able to enjoy my home or having to be sent to the nursing home.
Do I want to remember anything in a nursing home? Get that chip away from me and let me fade away. What don’t know won’t bother me. Now , what was I doing?

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