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Brain implant helps to make better decisions, even while on cocaine

Researchers at the University of Southern California have created a brain implant that helped repair brain damage and improve decision-making in monkeys.

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A new study showed how a brain implant helped monkeys make better decisions. (AFP/AFP/Getty Images)

Making bad decisions? Soon there'll be an app for that too - directly implanted in the brain.

Researchers at the University of Southern California have created a brain implant that helped repair brain damage and improve decision-making in monkeys.

The Los Angeles Times said that the implant alters brain waves to guide the subject away from mistakes and towards better decisions.

The novel study moves beyond using "brain prosthetics" to repair damaged brains and attempts to help monkeys (and maybe people later) make better decisions.

The study saw scientists train monkeys to perform the simple task of looking at an image and then pick that image out of many.

The monkeys were trained for two years until they reached between 70 to 75 percent accuracy.

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Researchers then implanted the device into the pre-frontal cortex of the ape and recorded brain waves each time the monkey guessed right, said Science Daily.

Through this method, scientists were able to discern a pattern in brain activity and then feed the monkey that pattern through the device in order to get the right answer.

Just to make things more interesting, researchers gave the monkeys cocaine, which disrupted their decison-making processes.

Despite being high, the monkeys' decision-making abilities increased when fed back the positive patterns into their brains.

Indeed, with the brain waves shot back into them, the monkeys' performance was improved by at least 10 percent, said Geekosystem.

It is hoped that the device will one day help those with brain damage or those who have neurological disorders.

The study was published this week in the Journal of Neural Engineering.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/science/120914/brain-implant-helps-make-better-decisions-even-while-cocaine