Science Questions

Could you add a hard drive to your brain to increase memory?

Sun, 15th Jan 2012

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Question

Josh Barrie, Facebook asked:

Could you add a ahard drive to your brain to increase memory storage?

Answer

Kevin -   You can stimulate memories.  That's about as far as weve got.  By applying signals at particular parts of the brain, someone will go Ahh!  I can remember when I was a young kid and so on.  But actually, finding where they are, recording them [is a challenge].  Some people feel memories are quite spread around in the brain, so I don't know if we yet, fully understand what memories are.  But I share the excitement, the possibilities.  In the long term, one would hope we will be able to do, but I think its a long, long way away yet.

Chris -   Andrew, what about the electrode side of this, because this is more where you're working.  The brain machine interface quite literally.  What about the concept of actually getting information in and out like that with an external hard drive?

Andrew -   Well again, as Kevin said, we know very little about how memory really works in the brain.  There is a group that's trying to make, for instance, an artificial hippocampus, but I think at this point, its a lot more engineering than it is science.  So, again as Kevin said, there's hope for the future, but right now, I think were quite a distance from that.

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