Something To Think About

by Kristie LeVangie

The Human BrainThe U.S. military announced this week in a July 8th news conference that it has chosen two universities to help develop brain implants to help veterans who suffer from brain injuries restore their declarative memory. The universities chosen were UCLA and the University of Pennsylvania in Philly.

The initiative, called Restoring Active Memory, or RAM, will attempt to develop wireless neuroprosthetic implants to help vets recall memories from before their injury and aid in their ability to form and retain new memories.

TBI, or traumatic brain injury, affects more than 270,000 U.S. veterans and almost 1.7 million civilians each year. There are currently very few options for the injured, but the use of implanted electrodes has shown success in treating Parkinson’s as well as other brain conditions.

According to LiveScience.com, “The UCLA team will focus on studying memory processes in the entorhinal cortex, an area of the brain known as the gateway of memory formation. Researchers will stimulate and record from neurons in patients with epilepsy who already have brain implants as part of their monitoring and treatment. The researchers will also develop computer models of how to stimulate the brain to re-establish memory function.

The University of Pennsylvania team will focus more on modeling how brain circuits work together more broadly, especially those in the brain’s frontal cortex, an area involved in the formation of long-term memories. The university is collaborating with Minneapolis-based biomedical device company Medtronic to develop a memory prosthesis system. [Flying Saucers to Mind Control: 7 Declassified Military & CIA Secrets]”

As I read the coverage, I can’t help but think we are on the verge of Gattaca or perhaps, Men in Black.

While THIS research focuses on restoring memory, if successful, I can see follow-up research to alter or even destroy memories.

Think about it.

Would you pay to forget your last relationship? How about to erase a traumatic childhood? Or a traumatic rape?

Conversely, would you pay to access certain memories that may lay dormant?

Imagine the power for a minute, and what if it fell into the wrong hands?

What if you could alter someone’s memory to take the blame for something they didn’t do? Or at the very least to provide yourself an alibi?

These scenarios are far from fruition as so much mystery still surrounds how the brain actually functions, but these are all things our grandchildren or even great-grandchildren may have to deal with.

I was shocked to learn that the RAM program is part of a broader BRAIN Initiative launched by President Obama in 2013. With $4.5 billion in backing and a 12-year plan, it’s either going to be a horrible waste of money or a monumental technological leap.

…But it’s definitely something to think about.

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