Feeds

Cranial RAM cram plan aims to restore memory

DARPA wants to help those with brain disease or injury

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Brain implant chips – beloved of conspiracy theorists and science fiction writers alike for decades – have finally made it onto the US government's research list, courtesy of DARPA.

The Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency, home to research into humanoid robots, guided bullets, Spider-Man-style climbing pads, suspended animation and various cyber-security projects, now wants research proposals into memory-restoring chips.

It's not actually DARPA's first foray into neurones: its cat-brain chip project has been going on for quite some time, for example.

In the latest announcement, DARPA says its “Restoring Active Memory” (RAM) program “which aims to develop and test wireless, implantable “neuroprosthetics” that can help service members, veterans, and others overcome memory deficits incurred as a result of traumatic brain injury (TBI) or disease”.

It's slinging as much as $US15 million in the direction of UCLA, and up to $US22.5 million towards the University of Pennsylvania to act as lead institutions for the RAM initiative. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory will catch up to $US2.5 million to create an actual “implantable neural device” – if the inter-disciplinary skunk-works' the universities put together manage to come up with an actual design.

Program manager Justin Sanchez says the RAM project “marks an exciting opportunity to reveal many new aspects of human memory and learn about the brain in ways that were never before possible”.

The project will first focus on developing computer models of memory, to describe “how neurons code declarative memories—those well-defined parcels of knowledge that can be consciously recalled and described in words, such as events, times, and places”.

Those models would form the basis of what gets coded onto the “neuroprosthetic” chips.

UCLA's contribution will be based on previous studies demonstrating a link between stimulating the entorhinal region of the brain: “Considered the entrance to the hippocampus—which helps form and store memories—the entorhinal area plays a crucial role in transforming daily experience into lasting memories. Data collected during the first year of the project from patients already implanted with brain electrodes as part of their treatment for epilepsy will be used to develop a computational model of the hippocampal-entorhinal system that can then be used to test memory restoration in patients”, DARPA writes.

The UCLA group will then be tasked with developing a small, high-spatial-resolution neuromodulation device which it will implant into “patients with traumatic brain injury”, DARPA says.

Meanwhile over at Penn, researchers will focus on identifying the biomarkers of successful memory function, to try and create models for restoring memory function (note: this means the operation of the brain in storing memories, not the memories themselves). ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
LOHAN packs bags for SPACEPORT AMERICA!
Spanish launch goes titsup, we're off to the US of A
Gigantic toothless 'DRAGONS' dominated Earth's early skies
Gummy pterosaurs outlived toothy competitors
'Leccy racer whacks petrols in Oz race
ELMOFO rakes in two wins in sanctioned race
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
CRR-CRRRK, beep, beep: Mars space truck backs out of slippery sand trap
Curiosity finds new drilling target after course correction
Astronomers scramble for obs on new comet
Amateur gets fifth confirmed discovery
Boffins build CYBORG-MOTHRA but not for evil: For search & rescue
This tiny bio-bot will chew through your clothes then save your life
Vulture 2 takes a battering in 100km/h test run
Still in one piece, but we're going to need MORE POWER
What does a flashmob of 1,024 robots look like? Just like this
Sorry, Harvard, did you say kilobots or KILLER BOTS?
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.