Scientists and doctors at the University of California, California, were able to treat a woman suffering from severe symptoms and signs of chronic mental depression, by implanting electrodes inside the brain, internally connected to neural circuits that scientists believe are responsible for her disease, and connected from the outside with a battery-powered device, implanted under the scalp, It releases impulses of stimulation and excitation, affecting the work of these nerve circuits, and preventing the patient from descending into depression, and the labyrinths of dark thoughts.
This medical breakthrough, according to what was published in the latest issue of a prestigious scientific journal (Nature Medicine), comes after a similar success in which doctors at West Virginia University Hospital were able to implant electrodes inside the brain of a 33-year-old patient to help him get rid of addiction. Opiate derivatives, which he suffered for more than ten years, during which he was exposed to episodes of excessive or overdose, which threatened his life several times.
These two treatments fall under what is known as Deep Brain Stimulation, which is the implantation of electrodes of an electronic device called a “neural stimulator” in deep areas of the brain, through which it sends electrical signals that affect how neurons perform their functions, which may help People with some neurological diseases, although it is still not clear or understood exactly how this happens.
Such a method, whether for therapeutic medical uses or other uses, is known as the field of human enhancement, which can be defined as making a change, natural, artificial or technological, to the human body, in order to enhance its physical or mental capabilities. Indeed, there are many different forms of human enhancement or enhancement techniques, some of which are under development, and some that are currently being tested.
Among the technologies falling under this concept are: human genetic engineering (ie gene therapy), neural implants, brain-computer interfaces, electronic software, deep brain stimulation, etc.
As with recent medical technological breakthroughs, the aforementioned University of California study still has a long way to go until it is approved as a treatment method for widespread use. Perhaps the most important hurdle he faces will be to identify the different neural circuits in the brain that cause episodes of major depression, which may differ from one person to another. Another obstacle is how long this treatment method will be effective, and will electrical stimulation achieve a full lifelong recovery? Or will its effect decline over time to return the patient to his previous era?
* Writer specializing in scientific affairs.