Cocaine, Cybernetic Implant Used in Study to Improve Monkey Memory
September 15, 2012 5:00 PM
comment(s) - last by
Memory response is improved to better than natural levels
"Say hello to my
We're not talking about Tony Montana's beloved multifunctional machine gun/grenade launcher. The "little friend" we are talking about is a futurists wet-dream or cyberethicist's worst nightmare -- a cybernetic implant that could one day improve cognitive function in humans.
I. Learning and Injury
The implant consisted of
an electrode prosthesis
which attached to two areas of a
monkey's neural cortex. Monkeys are closely related to humans and shared a great deal of neural physiology, hence they are ideal for
testing of brain activity
prior to human trials.
The implant showed the ability to not only restore damaged memory function in the monkey test subject -- it actually improved the monkey's memory above the original baseline.
monkey [Image Source: Mark Snelson]
The first step was learning.
In this phase monkeys were shown an image and then encourage to move a motion-activated cursor by moving their arms. If the monkeys selected the image on a second screen that they had just seen, they were rewarded with a drop of juice. The monkeys were typically 70-75 percent accurate at the memory test.
During the test a variety of inputs to the L2/3 and outputs to the L5 brain regions were recorded. Lead author,
Wake Forest University
Professor Robert Hampson
, "Inputs to that pattern may be blood flow, temperature, the electrical activity of other neurons, and even the prior electrical activity of the same cell."
The next step was impairment.
To simulate a brain injury or cognitive degeration, the monkeys' L2/L3 region -- which acted as the inputs to the L5 output region -- were doped with cocaine, a dopamine modifier. Cocaine impaired the learning.
II. Cybernetic Improvement
The final phase was replacement with artificial brain signals.
When the electrodes detect L2/3 inputs, they applied them to a "multi-input multi-output nonlinear" (MIMO nonlinear) model -- which translated them to a desired output. The tuned algorithm stimulated the L5 region of the brain, producing recollection.
The results were remarkable -- the monkeys not only regained their cocaine-suppressed ability to remember -- it actually was improved. Comments senior author, Wake Forest
Professor Sam Deadwyler
, "The reason the MIMO model was effective in improving performance in the task was because we specifically 'tuned' the model to analyze the firing of neurons that occurred when the animals correctly performed the behavioral task; the brain doesn't always produce the full 'correct' pattern on every trial."
The memory improvement involved the use of a dual-mode implant capable of learning I/O and restoring it (with improvements). [Image Source: IOP Science]
The impressive results encourage Professor Deadwyler that the system may soon be applicable to humans with brain injuries. He comments, "In the case of brain injury or disease where larger areas are affected, the system would record the inputs to that area from other areas and, when they occur, program the delivery of the appropriate output patterns to brain regions that normally receive signals from the injured area, thereby restoring lost brain function."
But the fact that the study improved neural function over the normal baseline raises an even more intriguing possibility -- someday people may be able to
use neural implants
to improve their memory and response, as desired. Of course such an application would likely produce an intense ethics debate.
The research was
[full-text PDF] in the peer-reviewed journal
Journal of Neural Engineering
. All of the animal experiments in the study were reviewed and approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee of Wake Forest University, in accordance with
U.S. Department of Agriculture
International Association for the Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care
National Institutes of Health
Alpha Galileo Foundation
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
Planet of The Apes
9/15/2012 5:14:53 PM
RE: Planet of The Apes
9/15/2012 6:31:36 PM
We are the monkeys, resistance is futile.
RE: Planet of The Apes
9/16/2012 11:15:06 AM
Cocaine? Is Dante the scientist behind this?
Starts Here - Record for scientific research
Winds up Here
RE: Planet of The Apes
9/18/2012 10:35:10 AM
Next up in the Journal of Medicine, a study revolving around crack and monkeys... or, more aptly named, the crackmonkey hypothesis.
"A politician stumbles over himself... Then they pick it out. They edit it. He runs the clip, and then he makes a funny face, and the whole audience has a Pavlovian response." -- Joe Scarborough on John Stewart over Jim Cramer
New Device Sends Signals Directly from Brain to Muscles, Paralyzed Patients Could Benefit
April 20, 2012, 4:40 PM
Monkeys Distinguish Textured Objects Using Only Brain Activity
October 7, 2011, 10:12 AM
Monkey Merges With Machine, Uses Robotic Arm to Perform Tasks
May 29, 2008, 2:30 PM
New Memory Implants Make Large Strides
April 8, 2007, 1:07 PM
Quick Note: Drone Loses Fight to the Death With Kangaroo
December 23, 2014, 3:28 PM
Campbell's Monkeys Found to Use Different Dialects to Describe Local Threats
December 22, 2014, 3:52 PM
Scientist Confirm Men are More Likely to Die in "Idiotic" Ways
December 17, 2014, 1:07 PM
Shoppers Surprised to Find Cards Against Humanity's Bullsh*t is Real Feces
December 16, 2014, 11:14 PM
Air Force Worries Hot Fuel Could Harm F-35, "Proactively" Paints Trucks Shiny
December 11, 2014, 9:06 AM
McDonald's is Testing Tablet-Based Burger Customization at 30 Franchises
December 10, 2014, 11:30 AM
Most Popular Articles
Miyamoto: Nintendo is Prepping Successor to Troubled Wii U
December 22, 2014, 6:28 PM
Amazon's Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 Drops to $299 (30 Percent Off) for a Day
December 22, 2014, 10:57 AM
Airbus A350 XWB Passenger Jet Takes Off, First Unit Delivered to Qatar Airlines
December 22, 2014, 1:22 PM
Microsoft, Google Back The Interview, North Korea Vows Attacks on America
December 24, 2014, 4:25 PM
Nokia's Sweet $250 Android Lollipop N1 Tablet is Rumored for Jan. 7 China Launch
December 24, 2014, 1:45 PM
Latest Blog Posts
Sceptre Airs 27", 120 Hz. 1080p Monitor/HDTV w/ 5 ms Response Time for $220
Dec 3, 2014, 10:32 PM
Costco Gives Employees Thanksgiving Off; Wal-Mart Leads "Black Thursday" Charge
Oct 29, 2014, 9:57 PM
"Bear Selfies" Fad Could Turn Deadly, Warn Nevada Wildlife Officials
Oct 28, 2014, 12:00 PM
The Surface Mini That Was Never Released Gets "Hands On" Treatment
Sep 26, 2014, 8:22 AM
ISIS Imposes Ban on Teaching Evolution in Iraq
Sep 17, 2014, 5:22 PM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2014 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information