digital_brain

A federal agency has issued a report confirming the viability of using brain implants to treat people who suffer from neuropsychiatric illnesses, reports Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

The research was begun several years ago because of the number of U.S. military members who return from violent conflict with stresses and complications.

Now, according to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the results show there’s hope.

The findings, the agency explained, concern using “a closed-loop system that can detect ongoing dynamic changes in brain activity associated with fluctuations in mood, and that can use this information to deliver precisely timed therapeutic stimulation to improve brain function in individuals living with neuropsychiatric illnesses.”

The work was begun several years ago under a SUBNETS program, for Systems-Based Neurotechnology for Emerging Therapies.

Its goal was to work up “responsive, adaptable, closed-loop therapies for neuropsychiatrict illness that incorporate recording and analysis of brain activity with near-real-time neural stimulation to correct or mitigate brain dysfunction.”

The idea is that moods are reflected in the brain by activity across neural systems.

“By understanding what healthy brain activity looks like across these sub-networks, comparing that to unhealthy brain activity, and identifying predictive biomarkers that indicate changing state, DARPA plans to develop interventions that maintain a healthy brain state within a normal range of emotions,” the new report said.

Now there are results from several projects that were developed at the University of California-San Francisco and at Massachusetts General Hospital.

“First, they developed a decoding technology that can predict changes in mood from recorded neural signals. Next, they identified a specific sub-network of the brain that appears to contribute to depressed mood, especially in people with existing anxiety. Finally and most recently, they reported they were able to alleviate symptoms of moderate to severe depression using open-loop neural stimulation delivered to the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) region of the brain to modulate a sub-network that contributes to depression.”

Articles confirming the results have appeared recently in Nature Biotechnology, Cell and Current Biology.

“There are millions of veterans in the United States who suffer from neuropsychiatric illness, and for many of them existing treatments do not offer meaningful relief,” said Justin Sanchez, director of the Biological Technologies Office.

For the rest of this report, and more, please go to Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

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