An implantable neural device could restore memory in patients with Alzheimer’s! The Department of Defense’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is funding the development of this device, and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, UCLA, and Medtronic are going to work together to make it a reality.
The device will stimulate neural tissue to bridge gaps in the brain, making it possible for patients to access memories and also form new ones. This device could also help patients with TBI (traumatic brain injury). This closed-loop, wireless device will be implanted into the hippocampus and entorhinal cortex.
Neurostimulators were piloted in rodents and dogs before approved for human use, and it’s amazing to see the advances and the potential associated with this research. Patients suffering from Parkinson’s and chronic pain are already benefiting from this technology, and with the rising incidence of Alzheimer’s, the potential for treatment with this device is great news. The hope is to have this device in clinical trials by 2017. Read more about it here:
Ever wonder why you can’t remember anything that happened when you were a baby? Babies can certainly form memories- but they don’t store them in a way that allows them to access those memories when they’re older. It’s called infantile amnesia, and new research is shedding light on a possible physical mechanism for the phenomenon.
It turns out that when you’re a baby, new brain cells are generated at such a fast rate that essentially there’s too much cell turnover to allow the infant to store memories. They can form memories, but if they can’t store those memories, they can’t access them when they get older.
Through research in rodents, guinea pigs and degus, researchers found that changing the rate of neurogenesis (generating new brain cells) affects memory storage. Animals who had their neuron production slowed down were able to remember things better than those that had their neuron production sped up (like the high rate of neurogenesis in infants).
It’s possible that lack of language skills and emotional development still play a role in infantile amnesia, but investigation into the rate of neurogenesis is certainly interesting. By looking into other effects of changing the rate of neurogenesis, could a treatment or prevention for Alzheimer’s be on the horizon? What do you think?
Octopuses are pretty awesome. Not only can they camouflage themselves by changing colors and imitating other animals to blend into their surroundings, but they can teach researchers about the brain’s ability to store and recall memories. Studying the octopus has led to new understanding of linguistics (ever wonder what an octopus and your tongue have in common?), and the venom from some species of octopus has been important in the understanding of new opportunities in drug development. And their arms can detach, taste whatever they’re touching, and also act like penises.
Intrigued? I think I’ve found the ultimate octopus video that proves how much octopuses kick ass. I promise, watch this one, you won’t be sorry. And if you don’t laugh, you may want to have yourself checked out. Click here to watch it.
We can learn a lot from animals, and sometimes, a little bit of humor is all it takes to get people to remember that! And there’s no doubt: octopuses kick ass.
A high IQ doesn’t necessarily mean more sex- but new research shows that regular sexual activity might make you smarter!
By studying rats that were sexually active every day, researchers found that sex increased the number of neurons created in the hippocampus (a part of the brain where long-term memories are made). Cognitive function was compared to levels seen in younger rats! But these effects only lasted while the rats were consistently sexually active.
The development of neurons can be negatively affected by stress. And while it’s common sense that sex can help reduce stress, it’s interesting that researchers are now able to show the effects of sex on the brain in this way.
Could a healthy sex life help older adults by reducing stress and improving memory and brain function? And if brain cell growth is stimulated by regular sexual activity, can sex really make you smarter? Interesting study… check it out!