Announced by a group of researchers at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the device, attached to an electrode inserted deep into the human brain structures, uses electricity to stimulate brain activity, improving memory function.
The new form of brain stimulation would improve the memory formation process by about 50%, with wearers of this implant being able to assimilate new information faster, while benefiting from an overall improvement in cognitive processes through faster access to already formed memories.
Already out of the animal experiment stage, the not yet very sophisticated implant is being tested with a group of 24 advanced epilepsy patients. Using two versions of the implant, the researchers have even recorded improvement in epileptic episodes, depending on the type and location of the electrode used.
The first version of the implant mimics naturally occurring brain patterns. The mode of operation consists of measuring brain waves, followed by using the implanted electrode to relay a harmonised version of them.
The second type of implant more closely mimicked the way the hippocampus works. But the effectiveness of memory improvement was also based on how unique each brain was, with results varying from patient to patient. Because the brain can change so much as a result of trauma, people with certain conditions are likely to see greater improvements than healthy individuals whose cognitive functions are already within normal parameters.