Soon, a device to help restore lost memories

May 05, 2014, 08:57 IST | Agencies

Washington: Those soldiers who cannot remember their families as a result of an injury in line of duty may soon get their memories back. Military researchers here are now gearing up to unveil a sophisticated memory stimulator that can restore lost memories. The project is a part of President Barack Obama’s $100 million (Rs 601.6 crore) initiative to better understand the human brain.

“If you have been injured in the line of duty and you cannot remember your family, we want to be able to restore those kinds of functions,” said Justin Sanchez, programme manager at Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), US.

He added, “We think that we can develop neuroprosthetic devices that can directly interface with the hippocampus (part of the brain involved in memory forming, organising, and storing), and can restore the first type of memories we are looking at, the declarative memories.”

Declarative memories are recollections of people, events, facts and figures. Till now, scientists have not been able to show that they can put back declarative memories once they are lost.

Once developed, the device could be a boon for people suffering from Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia.
The declaration made recently at a conference convened by the Center for Brain Health at the University of Texas raised ethical questions about whether the human mind should be manipulated in the name of staving off war injuries or managing the ageing brain.

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