Machine-learning software is being used to prod an individual’s brain into remembering things.
Backstory: Electrical stimulation to improve brain performance isn’t a new idea—but knowing how to deliver the pulses is tough.
First, learn: Researchers from University of Pennsylvania gathered data from 25 epilepsy patients, each with up to 200 electrodes already implanted in their brains for monitoring purposes, while they performed memory tasks. That formed a training set for AI to learn personalized models about how brain activity relates to remembering something.
Then, do: The same electrodes were then used for stimulation. The researchers had patients perform memory tasks while using the AI to plan stimulation when it thought they might forget something. It worked: patients with AI stimulation performed 15 percent better than controls on word-recall tasks.
Why it matters: Human understanding of the brain remains limited. The approach may help build systems to improve brain function, even if precise understanding of how memory works eludes us.
Humans and technology
Anti-abortion activists are collecting the data they’ll need for prosecutions post-Roe
Body cams and license plates are already being used to track people arriving at abortion clinics.
How China’s biggest online influencers fell from their thrones
Three top livestreaming personalities on the platform Taobao commanded legions of fans who bought billions of dollars’ worth of goods—until they suddenly went dark.
Inside the experimental world of animal infrastructure
Wildlife crossings cut down on roadkill. But are they really a boon for conservation?
Chore apps were meant to make mothers’ lives easier. They often don’t.
Rather than reducing the burden of housework, they tend to become yet another thing to worry about
Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review
Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.