The United States military is currently working to develop brain implants that will be designed to boost memory and treat post-traumatic stress disorder. The idea is that people would have a chip implanted in their brains so nothing would ever be forgotten.
The project is being funded by the United States Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Scientists from the agency have already tested the implants in people suffering from brain injuries in order to enhance their memories.
While DARPA actually has multiple brain-improvement projects being developed, the Restoring Active Memory project (RAM) has the specific goal of restoring the lost cognitive abilities of American soldiers. Estimates show that more than 300,000 soldiers returned home from Iraq and Afghanistan with brain injuries.
DARPA is currently working to determine how neurons within the human brain are able to encode memories. After this process is determined, scientists intend to create computer models that will mimic how exactly the brain functions. The end goal is that they would be able to implant devices that could trigger the memory process if neurons or their connections get damaged.
In September, representatives from DARPA stated that the agency implanted temporary sensors into patients who were undergoing brain surgery. This allowed scientists to detect brain activity that occurred during the processes of forming and recalling memories.
The biological technologies program manager for DARPA Justin Sanchez said, “As the technology of these fully implantable devices improves, and as we learn more about how to stimulate the brain ever more precisely to achieve the most therapeutic effects. I believe we are going to gain a critical capacity to help our wounded warriors and others who today suffer from intractable neurological problems.”
For the time being, work still needs to be done, but so far the scientists are off to a great start. With any luck, memory problems could someday be a thing of the past.