Neuroprosthetic Chip Implant Improves Memory and Decision Making In Monkeys

Science can be both awesome and terrifying, usually at the same time. Researchers at Wake Forest University are looking for ways to improve the cognitive and memory functions of those with brain injuries, and they’re using chips implanted into the brains of primates to test their technology and ideas.

According to Neurogadget, five primates were each outfitted with a surgically implanted neuroprosthesis in their prefrontal cortex that recorded neural activity when they performed a memory task. In this case, the monkeys were shown a picture and then had to select its match from an array of images on a screen.

This is a monkey's brain while performing a memory task (blue); this is a monkey's brain while performing a memory task on drugs (red); any questions?

After developing an algorithm that copied the primates’ brain pattern when executing the task, researchers could stimulate their brains to help the monkeys make the correct decision.

The neuroprosthetics worked even when the monkeys cognition was disrupted by cocaine (what?!), which indicates that such a device could potentially help patients who had lost a certain degree of cognition. Cases in which this could help patients include both acute cognitive impairments such as strokes or traumatic brain injuries, as well as slower-forming illnesses such as dementia.

Thus, there’s an indication here that brain implants could help people with memory and other executive functions. We’ll let your imagination run wild with all the terrifying misapplications of this technology that will be fine fodder for science fiction.