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Breakfast? Check. Laptop? Check. Books? Check. You rush out the door to get to class on time. You make it, impressively, with two minutes to spare. The lecture goes smoothly. You actually know what your professor is talking about. After a long day of school, you retreat back to your apartment. The couch and ice cream await. You rummage around for your keys, but they are no where to be found. You have to wait two hours for your roommate to return. All hope is lost.

Sound familiar? Chances are that you can relate. Whether you forget your keys or fail to remember the answer to a question on a test, forgetfulness has crept up on us at least once in our lives. Heck, probably once every day. But what if I were to tell you that you could live a life without these mishaps ever again? It sounds too good to be true, but scientists from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) have made it fairly possible with their new electric array brain implants that boost memory.

 Various types of neural processes are involved in memory

Image source: Aaron Tilley

The new implant, DARPA scientists propose, is able to “read” neural processes of the brain. It is able to see how minds form and retrieve memories as well as predict when we are about to recall incorrectly, or forget. Electrode arrays placed in brain regions involved in either declarative memory–used for simple memory such as lists–or spatial memory send signals to specific groups of neurons in order to influence accuracy of recall. Though full details of DARPA’s study have not been released yet due to pending peer reviews, DARPA has informed the general public that patients suffering from neurological problems unrelated to memory loss, such as epilepsy, who underwent electric array brain implantation saw an improvement in recall when their brains were specifically stimulated via electrode array. The process of electric array implantation involves the electrodes sending out signals to specific groups of neurons, which in turn influence the accuracy of recall.

Although further investigation must be conducted in order to determine the ideal timing of electrical stimuli in neural code and more information must be ascertained on declarative memory, electric array brain implants have the potential to boost the memory of those who have experienced trauma. While it is questionable whether or not people who are plainly lacking in good memory should undergo surgery for implantation, those suffering from major brain deficits may finally have a solution.

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