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6. Cognitive Prostheses
Science has shown its power by restoring vision, audition, motion, etc. to the blind, the deaf, and the lame. However, what happens if this same science is used, not for treating patients, but for furthering the capacity of the brain? Most of the neural prosthetics research presented above in brain-machine interfacing, refurbished either sensory or motor organs.However, University of Southern California researchers are developing "cognitive prostheses" to enhance the brain's cognitive functioning. The team is crafting a semiconductor microelecronic device to act as a memory chip, which would store short-term and long-term memories that can be hampered or destroyed when the hippocampus is damaged (resulting in amnesia) or degenerate due to Alzheimer's disease.Thus silicon circuitry duplicating neuronal action might replace degenerate neurons, leading to remedies for memory, cognition, speech, and motion deficiencies caused by neurophysical diseases or brain cell destruction. The systems being developed are "implantable neural prosthetics" with duplex communication chanrels to neural cells. Damaged brain cells could then be substituted with "neurocomputational" microelectronic circuits, programmed with nonlinear neural network mathematical models. Not only memory enhancement, but also cognitive functions such as pattern recognition can be performed by the "neurocomputational" multichip module, which can communicate with the neural cells via a "neuromorphic" silicon-based multielectrode array that adapts to distinct cytoarchitectures in differing sections of the brain .