Memory Helmet

There is a permanent record of the stream of consciousness within the brain. …hidden in the interpretive areas of the temporal lobes, there a key mechanism that unlocks the past… (Penfield, PNAS, 1958)

[Update 7/14 Wow! DARPA just funded, to the tune of $37 million, two research teams to explore how memories are stored and formed. Both teams will use implanted electrical devices to measure and record brain function around memory.]

[Update 10/13 We’re getting closer! Check out this article about DARPA funding transcranial ultrasound stimulation which can access and modulate deep into the brains accessing targets to a finely focused degree.]

Now hear me out… and check out the video below the photo. When I was a kid I saw a documentary on Dr. Wilder Penfield, a Canadian neurosurgeon and a pioneer of surgical techniques especially related to epilepsy. In the documentary, Dr. Penfield had a patient lying on her side, conscious, while her brain was exposed. He applied a very small electrical current using a two-pronged probe to the surface of her brain, and the patient instantly had the memory of sitting by the fireplace around the Christmas tree as a young girl. She described the room in detail. She recalled the conversation. Wow! I thought. Someday we’ll be able to put a helmet on our head and navigate our memories with a joy stick.

I’m a little disappointed they’re not here yet 😉 but am encouraged by all the interesting advances in brain science. They say about our experience that it’s all still in there. Let’s hope the memory helmets aren’t too far off.   (PS I think this is a great band name as well.)

Memory Helmet
Photo CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 by Clarksworth