Today, both the young and old could succumb to serious medical conditions that are caused by the brain’s failing to communicate properly with the rest of the body. The majority of these cases are due to spinal cord injury, which occurs when a traumatic event results in damage to cells within the spinal cord or severs the nerve tracts that relay signals up and down the spinal cord, usually leaving the patient with limited, if any, movement of the body and limbs. In addition, some individuals suffer from damaged brain circuitry, causing them to have cognitive problems, most notable memory difficulties.
In not so distant future, machine enhancements in the form of various types of implants any help these individuals to regain nerve impulse continuity.
Repair of damaged brain circuitry is also a key research focus in public, private and university settings. In the fall of 2003, researchers from University of Southern California hope to demonstrate that they can restore the signals responsible for memory in humans. Their current tests, being conducted in a rat model, suggest that their prototype memory-restoring chip will mimic the processing duties of thousands of neurons, serving to complete an otherwise damaged circuit.
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