Everybody knows that cocaine impairs your ability to make good decisions. A rhesus monkey, injected with cocaine makes very poor decisions. How do you improve a cocaine addled monkey’s decision making? With a Neuroprosthesis of course.
Researches from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and the University of Southern California, trained rhesus monkeys for nearly two years to execute a simple matching task. The monkeys ended up being 40%-75% accurate, depending on the difficulty of the task. They were also implanted with probes that recorded the “crackle of firing neurons during the animals’ choices.”
After the monkeys were deliberately injected with cocaine their decision making became as accurate as… a cocaine addled monkeys. Overall scores fell by 20 percent. But when they relayed the correct “crackle of firing neurons” back into the implants in the monkey’s brains, their decision making improved by 10 percent.
“The prosthetic device is like ‘flipping a switch’ to turn on a decision in real time,” said Sam Deadwyler, a professor of physiology and pharmacology at Wake Forest and one of the study’s authors. Under the influence of cocaine, the prosthesis restored and even improved as compared with the baseline, with the monkeys selecting the correct image 10 percent more frequently than before.
According to co-author Dr. Deadwyler, “the technology used in the study could easily be contained on an implantable chip” and in the future help people with brain damage from dementia, strokes or other brain injuries.