Imagine you can insert a memory card in your brain and go all Keanu Wow, I know Jiu-Jitsu! Reeves. It’s actually not that far away: Scientists have created a chip that allows rats to instantly know things. It’s amazing.
After studying the chemical interactions that allow short-term learning and memorization in rats, a group of scientists lead by Dr. Theodore Berger—from the University of South California’s Viterbi School of Engineering—have built a prosthetic chip that uses electrodes to enhance and expand their memory abilities. The chip is capable of storing neural signals, basically functioning as an electronic memory, allowing rats to learn more and keep it in the devices.
Dr. Berger’s description is almost frightening:
“Flip the switch on, and the rats remember. Flip it off, and the rats forget […] These integrated experimental modeling studies show for the first time that with sufficient information about the neural coding of memories, a neural prosthesis capable of real-time identification and manipulation of the encoding process can restore and even enhance cognitive mnemonic processes.
The team’s experiments—which have been in a paper called “A Cortical Neural Prosthesis for Restoring and Enhancing Memory”—could lead to the development of devices that may help people affected by Alzheimer’s disease, stroke or other brain injuries. In fact, they are already working on the next step: Reproduce the same result in monkeys.