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DARPA awards UCLA $15 million to restore lost memory
Date:7/8/2014

The UCLA Program in Memory Restoration has been awarded up to $15 million by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) for a four -year project aiming to help brain-injured people restore lost memory functions. A UCLA team of experts in neurosurgery, engineering, neurobiology, psychology and physics will collaborate to create, surgically implant, and test a memory prosthesis in the brain.

Memory is the process in which neurons in certain regions of the brain encode information, store it and retrieve it. Certain types of illnesses and injuries disrupt this process and cause memory loss.

"Losing our ability to remember past events and form new memories is one of the most dreaded afflictions of the human condition," said Dr. Itzhak Fried, the lead investigator for the UCLA project and a professor of neurosurgery and psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior.

The ambitious, first-if-its-kind project at UCLA builds upon Fried's 2012 research published in the New England Journal of Medicine in which he demonstrated together with lead author Nanthia Suthana and colleagues that human memory could be supported by stimulating the entorhinal area, a brain region known to be involved in learning, memory and Alzheimer's disease. Considered the entrance to the hippocampus, which helps form and store memories, the entorhinal cortex plays a crucial role in transforming daily experience into lasting memories.

"The entorhinal cortex is the golden gate to the brain's memory mainframe," Fried said. "Every visual and sensory experience that we eventually commit to memory funnels through that doorway to the hippocampus. Our brain cells send signals through this hub in order to form memories that we can later consciously recall."

In a key part of the project, the team will stimulate and record activity of single neurons and
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Contact: Kim Irwin
kirwin@mednet.ucla.edu
310-794-2262
University of California - Los Angeles Health Sciences
Source:Eurekalert  

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