US researchers have created a brain implant that assisted laboratory rats to remember behavior that they failed to.
It is the first time that scientists have been able to duplicate the brain's learning process and restore memories that laboratory rats were medicated to forget.
Flip the switch on, and the rats remember. Flip it off, and the rats forget, lead author Theodore Berger, a professor of biomedical engineering at USC's Viterbi School of Engineering, said in a university news release.
Scientists focused on the hippocampus part of the brain where the memories are created. The hippocampus is a part the brain structures known as the limbic system and is involved informing, storing and processing memory.
Scientists looked the signals between hippocampus as 45 rats learned behavior where they win a reward by pressing a lever. Through repeated behavior the laboratory rats converted this memory into long-term memory.
Scientists then used a drug on the laboratory rats to stop the signals between hippocampus and the rat forgot the long-term memory. However, when they implanted an electronic brain prosthetic that duplicated the signaling process between the hippocampus, the rats was able to remember it again.
Scientists are now eyeing monkeys as the next experiment target to learn how this research can help people with dementia and brain injuries. However that is far from being tested in humans.
The study was published in The Journal of Neural Engineering.