The Download: memory prosthesis, and rising nuclear plant risks – MIT Technology Review

The news: A unique form of brain stimulation appears to boost people’s ability to remember new information—by mimicking the way our brains create memories. The “memory prosthesis,” which involves inserting an electrode deep into the brain, also seems to work in people with memory disorders—and is even more effective in people who had poor memory to begin with, according to new research.

How it works: The memory prosthesis works by copying what happens in the hippocampus—a seahorse-shaped region deep in the brain that plays a crucial role in memory. The brain structure not only helps us form short-term memories but also appears to direct memories to other regions for long-term storage.

Why it matters: In the future, more advanced versions of the memory prosthesis could help people with memory loss due to brain injuries or as a result of aging or degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, say the researchers behind the work. Read the full story.

—Jessica Hamzelou

The must-reads

I’ve combed the internet to find you today’s most fun/important/scary/fascinating stories about technology.

1 Europe’s largest nuclear power plant has been knocked off the grid
The Ukrainian Zaporizhzhia plant’s critical cooling systems could be forced to run on emergency backup power. (NYT $)
+ The Kremlin won’t restore gas to Europe until sanctions are lifted. (The Guardian)
+ What is the risk of a nuclear accident in Ukraine? (MIT Technology Review)

2 Hail is getting bigger and bigger
But while climate change is likely to play a role, it’s not the sole explanation for why. (NYT $)
+ Extreme heatwaves and floods are just the beginning. (Economist $)

3 Crypto traders are making big bets again
The Ethereum blockchain upgrade is a probable factor. (Bloomberg $)
+ Enthusiasts are hoping “The Merge” will clean up crypto’s reputation. (TechCrunch)
+ Why Ethereum is switching to proof of stake and how it will work. (MIT Technology Review)

4 Meet Paolo Benanti, the Pope’s AI advisor  
He’s extremely concerned about AI exacerbating inequality by taking middle class jobs. (New Scientist $)

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