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Artificial aid annoys user to counteract short-term memory loss

Darren Murph
November 1, 2006
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It's oftentimes tough to recall recent events, names, or gamertags while having a perfectly "normal" state of mind, but folks with brain damage, Alzheimer's disease, or ADHD are commonly plagued with the inability to bring back memories from just moments earlier. The function of the brain known as the "phonological loop" acts as a type of echo to hold snippets of pertinent information (such as phone numbers, directions, etc.) momentarily in your brain until you can get it written down; individuals suffering from short-term memory loss often lack this overlooked, but obviously critical, functionality. Daniel Bogen, a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, has crafted a handheld device which acts as an aural stopgap to help people remember important information. The device boasts a speaker, microphone, and controls for recording / playback, and will automatically play reminders of the user's latest sound byte every two minutes, or if chosen, will nag its carrier to vocally repeat the message into the machine until he / she does so. To presumably prevent those amnesiac customers from perpetually misplacing their device, Bogen is considering integrating the hardware into "cellphones or wristwatches," but apparently forgot to mention when he hopes to see these in consumers' hands.

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