This blows my tiny organic mind: researchers have proven that if you know enough about how a brain region codes and transmits information, you can completely replace its functionality in real time with an electronic implant. The device was able to restore long term memory in rats with a damaged hippocampus. "Flip the switch on, and the rats remember. Flip it off, and the rats forget," said Theodore Berger of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering’s Department of Biomedical Engineering. Furthermore, when installed in rats with a normal functioning hippocampus, it enhanced their ability to form and retrieve memories.
Since the hippocampus is the critical component in accessing and forming long term memory, and the first to get fried by Alzheimer’s, this is good news for Alzheimer’s patients, stroke victims, and Guy Pierce (the guy in Memento). For the rest of us, it means the money we’re saving for our kid’s college fund might actually go towards buying an Ivy League® brand brain implant and the college experience can finally be all about the parties.
Here are some more details: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2011-06/uosc-rmr061211.php
Here’s the full scientific paper they published in the Journal of Neural Engineering: http://iopscience.iop.org/1741-2552/8/4/046017