Brain Implant Could Help People With Memory Loss

Researchers at University of Southern California at Los Angeles (USC) Viterbi School of Engineering and Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina have developed a brain prosthesis designed to help individuals suffering from memory loss associated with Alzheimer's Disease (AD) and other forms of dementia form new memories, even when the memory center of the brain, called the hippocampus, is damaged. Worldwide, nearly 44 million people have Alzheimer's Disease or a related form of dementia, the global cost of which is estimated at $605 billion annually, equivalent to 1 percent of the entire world's gross domestic product The scientists report that their prosthesis, which interfaces via a small array of electrodes implanted into the brain, has performed well in laboratory testing in animals and is currently being evaluated in human patients. Designed originally at USC and tested at Wake Forest Baptist, the device builds on decades of research by Viterbi biomedical engineer Ted Berger, and relies on a new algorithm created by Dong Song, both of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering. The development also builds on more than a decade of collaboration with Sam Deadwyler and Robert Hampson of the Wake Forest Baptist Department of Physiology & Pharmacology, who have collected the neural data used to construct the models and algorithms. The implant, which builds on decades of research, has performed well in mice studies and is now being evaluated in human epilepsy patients. The research team from USC and Wake Forest Baptist announced their results on August 27 at the 37th Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society that was held at MiCo - Milano Conference Center - in Milan, Italy, August 25
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