New York: Scientists have developed a new brain implant that can boost memory function in laboratory rats, a breakthrough which they say could lead to the development of neuroprosthetic devices that can help tackle dementia, stroke and repair brain injuries in humans.
Though it`s yet to be tested in humans, the scientists at Wake Forest University and the University of Southern California said their implant demonstrated for the first time that a cognitive function can be improved with a device that mimics the firing patterns of neurons.
In recent years scientists have devised implants that allow paralysed people to move prosthetic limbs or a computer cursor, using their thoughts to activate the machines.
But in the latest work, the researchers used some of the same techniques to read neural activity, but translated those signals internally to improve brain function rather than to activate outside appendages, the New York Times reported.
In a series of experiments, the scientists trained the rats to remember which of two identical levers to press to receive water.
The animals first saw one of the two levers appear and then (after being distracted) had to remember to press the other lever to be rewarded.
Repeated training on this task teaches rats the general rule, but in each trial the animal has to remember which lever appeared first, to inform the later choice.