What kind of shape is YOUR brain in? Have you had an injury that has affected the way it functions? (NOTE: Subscribers can still listen to these shows). Help is on the way: researchers have created a prosthetic device capable of restoring decision-making in people who have reduced capacity due to brain disease or injury. It works in non-human primates, and they believe that one day it will be possible in people. This could be the END of Alzheimer’s.
The scientists used an electronic prosthetic system to tap into existing circuitry in the brain at the cellular level and record the firing patterns of multiple neurons in the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain involved in decision-making. They then “played” that recording back to the same brain area to electrically stimulate decision-based neural activity. Not only did it restore function, in some cases, it also improved it.
In the study, the scientists trained five monkeys to match multiple images on a computer screen until they were correct 70 to 75% of the time. When the monkeys correctly chose the image they were shown first, the electronic prosthetic device recorded the pattern of neural pulses associated with their decision. Then the monkeys were given a narcotic drug which simulated brain disruption and injury. After the drug was administered, their decision-making ability decreased 13%. However, the MIMO device restored their cocaine-impaired decision-making ability to an improved level of 10% above normal, even when the drug was still present and active in their brains.
Researcher Sam Deadwyler says, “The prosthetic device is like ‘flipping a switch’ to turn on a decision in real time."
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