US develops brain implant to fix wounded soldier’s memory

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Nearly 300,000 US military men and women who have sustained traumatic brain injuries in Iraq and Afghanistan are expected to benefit from a brain implant that US military researchers have developed to one restore a wounded soldier’s memory. “If you have been injured in the line of duty and you can’t remember your family, we want to be able to restore those kinds of functions,” said Justin Sanchez, program manager at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.  He said they “can develop neuroprosthetic devices” that can restore declarative memories – recollections of people, events, facts and figures.  However, the science – part of President Barack Obama’s $100 million initiative to better understand the human brain – has never been done before, and raises ethical questions. Arthur Caplan, a medical ethicist at New York University’s Langone Medical Center, said: “When you fool around with the brain you are fooling around with personal identity. The cost of altering the mind is you risk losing sense of self, and that is a new kind of risk we never faced.” When it comes to soldiers, the potential for erasing memories or inserting new ones could interfere with combat techniques, make warriors more violent and less conscientious, or even thwart investigations into war crimes, he said.

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