The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (“DARPA”) has just announced its plans to develop a cognitive device that will restore one’s memory following a traumatic brain injury.
Once surgically installed in the brain, the neuroprosthetic implant will serve to assist in forming, storing, and recalling once-lost memories. While all victims of traumatic brain injuries are eligible in theory, it seems that wounded warriors will receive special preference.
Backing the research project officially known as “Restoring Active Memory”, the Pentagon hopes to begin its first human tests as early as 2017. The University of California, Los Angeles and the University of Pennsylvania have already been contracted to embark on the development journey. Over the next four years, the UCLA group is set to receive up to $15 million, whereas the University of Pennsylvania team is set to receive $22.5 million. Scientists from both universities will also team up with neural technology experts from California's Lawrence Livermore National Lab, as well as manufacturer giants Medtronic, Inc. and Neuropace, Inc.
Many people have expressed skepticism over the project’s overall objective, deeming it too lofty of a goal. Geoffrey Ling, director of DARPA's biological technologies office, addressed such cynicism last week. "This is just not cocktail party talk," Ling assured the media via a telephone conference call.
"We have so much hope that this new program is going to do wonderful things to restore our injured service members.”
Apart from service members, the project will further target sufferers of epilepsy or Parkinson’s disease who are also plagued by memory difficulties.