Neuroprosthesis to mimic, repair and improve cognition
Kernel is a startup that has a mission to dramatically increase quality of life. They have a ready-for-the-clinic brain prosthetic to help people with memory problems. The target market includes people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, as well as those who have suffered a stroke or traumatic brain injury.
Surgeons will one day implant Kernel’s tiny device in their patients’ brains, specifically in the brain region called the hippocampus. There, the device’s electrodes will electrically stimulate certain neurons to help them do their job, turning incoming information about the world into long-term memories.
In Berger’s approach, electrodes in the hippocampus first record electrical signals from certain neurons as they learn something new and encode the memory. These electrical signals are the result of neurons “firing” in specific patterns. Berger studied how electrical signals associated with learning are translated into signals associated with storing that information in long-term memory. Then his lab built mathematical models that take any input (learning) signal, and produce the proper output (memory) signal.