The Artificial Hippocampus

Artificial Hippocampus

PESCOVITZ: Biomedical engineer Theodore Berger at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles has developed an artificial hippocampus: a silicon substitute for the part of the brain that scientists believe encodes experiences as long-term memories. To do this, Berger built mathematical models of neuronal activity in a rat’s hippocampus and then designed circuits that mimic those activities. The next step is to implant the devices in rats to see if they can process the electrical impulses associated with memory and then communicate them back to the brain for long-term storage. Joel Davis at the Office of Naval Research, a sponsor of Berger’s work, said, “Using implantables to enhance competency is down the road. It’s just a matter of time.” While Berger’s work is a far cry from a hard drive for the brain, I’m intrigued by the notion of being able to “back up” my memory just in case.

4 Comments

  1. mya, if you think that animals somehow stand on an equal moral ground to humans, deserving of full consideration, you might be suffering from some sort of psychopathology. To be sure, we can’t cause animals needless pain, but when thousands or millions of humans can be better off as a result of some animal pain, then we’d be wrong to *not* do it.

    Needless to say, this extension of electrocortigraphy is absolutely fascinating. Humans with external memory sounds awesome.

    • External memory does sound awesome. It sounds beyond awesome. But it would be another of technology’s double edged swords/

      Information saved needs to be transmitted to a hard-drive in some way, if that’s done wirelessly then that info, your memories are potentially on display to other people. Sometimes it’s okay, but other times not so much.

      The implant likely needs a power supply. That supply could be switched potentially allowing one to turn their memory on and off. If the signal to turn it on and off is wireless, that also has danger for hacking. A tech savvy burglar could turn off your memory before robbing you blind in full view, then turn it back on after leaving. Thus you have no long term recollection of who stole your stuff.

      It allows some interesting features, though.
      It would likely be worth the risk in most cases where an artificial hippocampus would be needed, but not otherwise.

  2. your sick you use animals for to have better memory why do you do that why like so what if they can not remeber evey thing so what its humans fault that animals must pay the price

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