US researchers are banking on the hope that electrical devices implanted in the brain might one day restore memory to people who have lost it. On 9 July, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) awarded a total of $37.5 million to two research teams to study how memories are formed and retrieved and to develop devices to stimulate these processes in the brain. Here Nature offers a preview of the research to come from these awards.
Where is the money coming from?
DARPA is one of three US agencies to receive funding this year through the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative, which President Barack Obama announced in April 2013.
DARPA has said that it plans to use its share of the money — $50 million this year — to fund study of brain disorders common to soldiers and veterans, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and memory dysfunction caused by traumatic brain injury. In May the agency awarded $56 million to support two teams in creating brain-stimulation devices to treat disorders such as PTSD and depression, and to map the neural circuitry involved in these conditions. The latest round of grants is focused on the use of such devices to restore memory function.
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