Science & Skepticism

Pentagon Developing Brain Chip For Soldiers

Photo: Bryan Jones

Geek.com is reporting that DARPA has been tasked with researching a microchip implant for soldiers that would act like a black box recorder for your brain and could help restore memory functions after trauma.

The Pentagon has asked DARPA to develop a system that could fit on a soldier’s brain to help them trigger memories surrounding any traumatic event. It could also help them recover memory loss.

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The idea was concocted after the studies on the device for Parkinson’s patients proved promising in alleviating symptoms of the disease. DARPA hopes to build on these neuroengineering devices in a way that could help restore memory to troops that have incurred devastating trauma from battlefield injuries.

President Barack Obama funded a project known as the BRAIN initiative in order to seek treatments for disorders caused by disease and injury. Federal regulators have approved the implant for treatment of disease, which means their use in the field for American combat troops could be very soon.


The chip delivers deep brain stimulation, using thin wires to carry a signal to the brain. Some of the wires are implanted inside the brain, while the rest are placed under the scalp. Electrical impulses are fired from a product located under the skin in the upper chest area.

From Bloomberg:

Darpa’s envisioned brain probe may one day help with some of the memory losses suffered by people like Thomas Green III, who said he was driving a five-ton truck in Iraq in 2004 when it hit a roadside bomb, then flipped 10 times. Green survived with a crushed pelvis, fractured back and a brain injury.

After the attack, the 31-year-old U.S. Army sergeant said he couldn’t recall how to put on a shirt or brush his teeth. While dating the woman who is now his wife, he sometimes forgot to pick her up and didn’t always remember her name.

Improvised explosive devices, the type of homemade bomb that Green said his truck hit, have contributed to war-time injuries, though many more have occurred among troops stationed at their bases in accidents such as vehicle crashes, falls and training injuries, according to military data.

 

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