Can Brain Implants and Stem Cells restore lost memories?

Two recent articles highlight memory restoration through different means – one by stem cell transplant and another using electrodes.

Researchers at University of Wisconsin-Madison showed that human stem cells can successfully implant themselves in the brain and form nerves. The research showed nerves that released GABA and acetylcholine neurotransmitters were formed, and these mice scored significantly better on tests of learning and memory. They were more adept in the water maze test, which challenged the mice to remember the location of a hidden platform in a pool.



Work by our local USC as well as MIT and Wake Forest focused on implanting electrodes deep into the hippocampus, where short-term memories become long-term ones.  They have already shown that some brain functions can be replaced by signals from electrodes. “We support and reinforce the signal in the hippocampus but we are moving forward with the idea that if you can study enough of the inputs and outputs to replace the function of the hippocampus, you can bypass the hippocampus
But… it wouldn’t be far-fetched that, far in the future, someone might be able to teach you anatomy with an electrode implant..” They hope this treatment will help dementia and Alzheimer’s patients.



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