Every year, people suffer from memory loss, whether it be from a stroke, an injury or Alzheimer's. Now, scientists have figured out a way to "save" a person's memories on a chip, which can be implanted within the brain.
Several leading universities, including MIT, Wake Forest and USC, worked together in what was considered one of 2013's top 10 technological breakthroughs.
Something previously thought impossible and fantasized about in sci-fi literature, will now be a possibility for people and families who have suffered from memory loss.
So how did scientists figure this one out?
Well, we know that electrical signals travel through neurons in an undamaged part of the brain where short term memories become long term ones, mainly in the hippocampus. Scientists studied this activity, and learned that by using electrodes, they could mimic this in a damaged part of the brain, in a way that would replace the brain function and therefore restore memories elsewhere.
Currently, electronics that could do this much work are much too big to be implanted in the brain. Scientists are working on shrinking it down and hoping that within two years, volunteers will be able to test the chip, and in five to 10 years, it will be made readily available to patients in need.
However, as much as a step forward this invention is, it is important to keep in mind that patients who have suffered significant memory loss, in cases of dementia, will most likely not improve from this. In any case, people are optimistic, as it is a step in the right direction for those who experience gradual memory loss, and families who have a history of Alzheimer's may not have to worry in generations to come.