Bloomberg reports on a five-year, $77 million project by America's Department of Defense to create an implantable brain device that restores memory-generation capacity for people with traumatic brain injuries:

A device has now been developed by Michael Kahana, a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, and the medical technology company Medtronic Plc, and successfully tested with funding from America's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa).

Connected to the left temporal cortex, it monitors the brain's electrical activity and forecasts whether a lasting memory will be created. "Just like meteorologists predict the weather by putting sensors in the environment that measure humidity and wind speed and temperature, we put sensors in the brain and measure electrical signals," Kahana says. If brain activity is suboptimal, the device provides a small zap, undetectable to the patient, to strengthen the signal and increase the chance of memory formation.

In two separate studies, researchers found the prototype consistently boosted memory 15 per cent to 18 per cent. The second group performing human testing, a team from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C., aided by colleagues at the University of Southern California, has a more finely tuned method. In a study published last year, their patients showed memory retention improvement of as much as 37 per cent. "We're looking at questions like, 'Where are my keys? Where did I park the car? Have I taken my pills?'â" says Robert Hampson, lead author of the 2018 study...

Both groups have tested their devices only on epileptic patients with electrodes already implanted in their brains to monitor seizures; each implant requires clunky external hardware that won't fit in somebody's skull. The next steps will be building smaller implants and getting approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to bring the devices to market... Justin Sanchez, who just stepped down as director of Darpa's biological technologies office, says veterans will be the first to use the prosthetics. "We have hundreds of thousands of military personnel with traumatic brain injuries," he says. The next group will likely be stroke and Alzheimer's patients.

Eventually, perhaps, the general public will have access—though there’s a serious obstacle to mass adoption. “I don’t think any of us are going to be signing up for voluntary brain surgery anytime soon,” Sanchez says. “Only when these technologies become less invasive, or noninvasive, will they become widespread.”

Source: https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/businessweek/u...
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“…Whilst brainjacking raises ethical concerns pertaining to privacy and physical or psychological harm, we claim that the possibility of brainjacking DBS raises particularly profound concerns about individual autonomy, since the possibility of hacking such devices raises the prospect of third parties exerting influence over the neural circuits underpinning the subject's cognitive, emotional and motivational states. “

Read more here - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30595661

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Authoralexanderhayes
IBM is creating a computing system, called a neural network and powered by the company’s TrueNorth chip, that can study the brain wave patterns that indicate a seizure. The company hopes that such a system could someday be built into mobile devices which can warn, and possibly even prevent, epileptic seizures.

Tech companies like Google and Facebook already are using neural networks to perform computing tasks like image and voice recognition, but they run them via the cloud and on large machine-learning data centers. In contrast, IBM’s postage stamp-sized TrueNorth chip consumes over 1,000 times less power than a conventional processor of similar size, making it ideal to run on existing mobile devices. Moreover, it’s built using a new architecture patterned after neurons of the human brain, making it more efficient.

The advanced machine intelligence software in the chip has myriad uses potentially, but researcher Stefan Harrer and his team at IBM Research Australia are focusing on how the chip can support a neural network that is capable of predicting seizures, based on what it learns from actual EEG readings from epilepsy patients, reports Wired.

”We’re trying to extract all the meaningful information from all the background noise. We want to be able to detect a specific seizure for a specific patient,” Harrer told the online magazine.

He and his team plan to use the chip with an external computer, and eventually a wearable device, that will work in tandem with a brain implant. The implant would send EEG information to the TrueNorth device, which would then use the data to predict the possibility of an epileptic seizure, and warn the patient beforehand, according to Digital Trends.

”We want to do this on a wearable system that you put on a subject — on a patient — and have it do analysis in real-time, 24/7. That’s the only way this technology will have an impact beyond cool research papers,” Harrer told Wired.

Later, such a device could be sophisticated enough to be capable not only of detecting an impending seizure attack, but ultimately preventing it by sending electrical impulses.

Existing device-based therapies to treat epileptic seizures also rely on electric stimulation.

FDA approved in 2013, the RNS Stimulator is implanted under the scalp and delivers electrical impulses to normalize brain activity. The device has been shown to decrease the frequency of seizures in epileptic patients. Companies such as Medtronic, St. Jude, NeuroPace, and others, are developing and marketing neurostimulators that address neurological disorders.

Meanwhile, other researchers are exploring other technologies to treat these disorders. A National Institutes of Health (NIH) study is looking at how biodegradable silk brain implants can prevent seizures, while researchers at the University of California Irvine are testing how optogenetic lasers targeted at specific areas of the brain can inhibit seizure activity.

The BRAIN (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies) Initiative is a public/private collaboration with the goal of devising technologies that will advance our understanding of the brain, including the development of intelligent devices to track and treat abnormal brain activity in people with epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, autism, and other neurological disorders.
— http://www.meddeviceonline.com/doc/ibm-aims-to-make-brain-implant-to-predict-stop-seizures-0001

Source: http://www.meddeviceonline.com/doc/ibm-aims-to-make-brain-implant-to-predict-stop-seizures-0001