Remember the days of floppy disks? Probably not fondly thanks to the advent of the glorious flash drive. Info is easily stored and just as easily accessed at any time, from anywhere. If only it were so easy to remember the name of that guy in that movie that you liked so much from last year.
What if you could get a sort of flash drive for your brain, designed to help improve your memory capabilities? Biomedical engineering may have the answer for you.
A group led by Dr. Theodore Berger of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, has created a microchip for the brain that, in rats, duplicates the neural signals associated with memory. This device, which works to reconnect damaged circuits in the brain, is detailed in their article in the June issue of the Journal of Neural Engineering.
You’d imagine something that looks like this might have some sort of effect on the brain. You may not imagine, however, that it would be a beneficial one.
It seems that the witch doctors of old did know a bit about what they were doing. That is, in as much as many of the plants they were using did indeed harbor valuable medicinal properties. Now, researchers at Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) have unlocked some of those medical benefits. A recent study, published in the journal PLoS One, indicates that a family of naturally occurring plant compounds, known as beta-carboline alkaloids, may be used to help prevent or delay the memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s.