Science fiction fans may remember the 1995 movie Johnny Mnemonic, starring Keanu Reeves. In the movie, Reeves’ character had a memory chip implanted in his brain. More than two decades later, this bit of science fiction has come closer to being a reality. Neuroscientists from several facilities across the country, such as MIT, North Carolina’s Wake Forest University, and the University of Southern California, recently announced the development of an electronic device designed to enhance memory.
Although the new device looks promising, there are still several health conditions that lead to cognitive impairment in seniors. These health risk factors often affect mobility and make it difficult for seniors to perform daily tasks. Aging adults who require assistance with the tasks of daily living can benefit from reliable at-home care. Tucson, AZ, families trust in Home Care Assistance to provide the high-quality care their elderly loved ones need and deserve. Our caregivers are trained to help seniors prevent and manage serious illnesses and encourage them to make healthier decisions as they age. Here’s what we know about this new research so far.
Dr. Ted Berger, Dr. Rob Hampson, and other team members who worked on the project represent a variety of fields, which include biomedical engineering, pharmacology, and physiology. The group believes they now have a better understanding of how the brain makes, stores, and retrieves long-term memories. They studied the hippocampus, which is where short-term memories transform into long-term memories, and observed how signals travel through the neurons during the process. Using mathematical equations, Dr. Berger sought to replicate the action through electronics. The Berger Chip thus became a reality.
Berger Chip Trials
Experiments performed on laboratory monkeys and rats indicate that electronic signals provided by electrodes have the capability to replace certain functions in the brain. The team observed memories being created in undamaged regions of brains. They used the information to predict how a damaged area might react. Electrodes were then implanted to stimulate the damaged area to act as if it was not impaired. The technology proved successful in laboratory animals. Human trials are currently taking place.
Although the electronic implants cannot retrieve memories from damaged areas, they can enable people to make, store, and retrieve new memories. Despite the success of the group, many remain skeptical. However, the researchers agree time is needed for people to accept the claims and findings. Nevertheless, the scientists say there are plenty of human volunteers willing to participate in trials to test the implants. The overall project is being funded in part by the military in hopes of finding a treatment for traumatic brain injuries incurred in battle. It may also prove beneficial for seniors with other cognitive impairments.
Living with a serious health condition can make it challenging for seniors to age in place. However, they can maintain a higher quality of life with the help of professional live-in care. Tucson seniors can benefit from assistance with meal prep, bathing, transportation to the doctor’s office, medication reminders, and much more.
Implants Are Not New
For more than a decade, modern medicine has included implanted electronic devices to alleviate epilepsy and Parkinson’s symptoms in seniors. The technology has helped approximately 80,000 people enjoy a better quality of life. However, the ultimate goal of the research teams is to develop the technology to treat Alzheimer’s. Unlike certain other neurological disease processes, Alzheimer’s affects many areas of the brain, which means the technology should be more complex.
Hope for the Future
Dr. Berger feels that in the near future, seniors with Alzheimer’s might be helped using both drugs and implants. Medications can enhance cells surrounding damaged regions, and implants may replace the lost cells in the areas with the most damage. However, the teams believe the technology might only prove useful for adults with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s.
If your elderly loved one is living with Alzheimer’s and needs help managing the symptoms, turn to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of Alzheimer’s care. Tucson seniors can rely on our revolutionary Cognitive Therapeutics Method (CTM), an activities-based program that helps slow cognitive decline and delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. CTM also encourages seniors to engage with others in an enjoyable way and helps them build new routines to look forward to. Call (520) 276-6555 to learn about our patent approach to Alzheimer’s care.