Analogous to heart pacemakers, an electrical pacemaker can drive currents into a few key locations in the brain to lift otherwise untreatable depression. Imagine a more refined device with many more implants that would allow dialing up various moods and mental states.
Nearly ten percent of all cases of depression are so severe that the patients do not respond to any established treatment method. Targeted stimulation of areas in the brain using a type of "brain pacemaker" has recently raised hopes: According to initial studies, half of patients with the most severe depression treated in this manner see a significant improvement in mood. Physicians from the University of Bonn, together with colleagues from the US, have suggested a new target structure for deep brain stimulation (as it is technically called). They hope to achieve an even better success rate with fewer side effects. The work has been published in the renowned Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews (doi: 10.1016/j.neurobiorev.2010.12.009).
In deep brain stimulation, physicians implant electrodes in the brain. Using an electrical pacemaker implanted under the patient's clavicle, physicians can influence the function of certain areas of the brain in a lasting manner. The method was originally developed for treating patients with Parkinson's disease, in order to alleviate the typical movement problems.
Stimulating any one of 3 connected areas works for relief of depression.
Deep brain stimulation has been tested to date in three different areas of the brain: the nucleus accumbens, the internal capsule, and a structure known as cg25. Surprisingly, the effects are nearly identical - regardless of which of these centers the physicians stimulate. Together with colleagues from Baltimore and Washington, the Bonn researchers have since been able to explain why this is the case: Using a novel tomography method, they were able to make the "cable system" of the three brain centers visible. "In doing this, we determined that at least two of these three areas - probably even all three - are attached to one and the same cable harness," explains the Bonn brain surgeon, Professor Dr. Volker Coenen.
How about an implant that turns off boring droning on? A remote control would be useful for this. Get one of these installed in any bore in the office and any time they start going on just hit a button. Would work on dates and in relationships too.
Then there are criminals. How about brain implants that would stop them from committing crimes? The electric restraint gadget wouldn't even need to work in the brain for some types of crimes. Condition of parole: Anyone threatened with harm could use their cell phone (or perhaps a button on their watch or ring) to turn the beast off and make a monster into a lamb.
|Share |||Randall Parker, 2011 February 01 12:03 AM Brain Depression|