The 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.