Orgasm please computer.

July 08 2008 / by Virulent / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Relationships   Year: 2020   Rating: 12

An oldie but a goodie.

Brain-pacemakers are being used to treat patients suffering from severe depression and the potentials of the technology are being expanded on. What happens when brain stimulation is safe and not only reserved to people suffering from disorders?

“Brain pacemakers” are used to treat people who suffer from epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, clinical depression and other diseases. The pacemaker is a medical device that is implanted into the brain to send electrical signals into the tissue.

For those of you who don’t know what they are the paragraph above is the first sentence from the wikipedia article and as you can see the treatment the technology provides is quite vast and immediate.

Lets look down the winding road a little bit and consider what a world it would be like if these pacemakers become easy to implant and remove self maintaining and powering. A nanobot for stimulation?! what scientist would dare consider such a thing.

Well i found an article a while back in wired which had this to claim:

Implant Achieves Female Orgasm

One woman undergoing treatment for back pain may have discovered a cure for the thousands of woman frustrated by the inability to achieve orgasm. While Dr. Stuart Meloy was putting an electrode into the woman’s spine in an attempt to ease her chronic pain, he not only reduced her back pain, but gave her an unexpected – but delightful – side-effect. (cont.)

“She said, ‘You’re going to have to teach my husband how to do that’,” Meloy, an anesthesiologist and pain specialist in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, said. The discovery is published in Wednesday’s issue of New Scientist.

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A brain implant for artificial motivation

March 30 2009 / by iPlant / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Biotechnology   Year: General   Rating: 7 Hot

I recently blogged and vlogged about Medtronic starting a clinical trial where deep brain stimulation (DBS) would be applied to the ventral striatum (part of the human reward circuit) to treat depression in up to 200 patients. Then the article on CNNmoney that I was basing this on disappeared and I worried that the whole thing might have been a mistake or a hoax. But the article has resurfaced on the Wall Street Journal and elsewhere, and I finally got around to digging up Medtronic's original press release from 19 Feb 2009, which confirms that they are conducting a clinical trial of DBS as a treatment for depression.

reclaim.jpg

But more than that. It turns out that the entire implant procedure that they're using isn't new at all - it's the same procedure they use to treat OCD (recently FDA approved for up to 4000 patients). The implant is called Reclaim and (quoting the press release) "the anatomical target in the brain is the.. ventral striatum.. which is a central node in the neural circuits believed to regulate mood and anxiety". So it seems DBS implants have been placed in the human reward circuit since the OCD trials started, many years ago. This is good news because it means we're even better at putting DBS implants in the human reward circuit than I thought we were. Basically, DBS applied to the ventral striatum (VS) didn't just alleviate the behavioural tics of OCD patients but also improved their mood. Studies like Schlaepfer et al 2008 (3 patients) and Malone et al 2009 (15 patients), which I thought were ground-breaking, merely confirmed that DBS applied to the VS improves the mood of severely depressed patients as well.

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Let's use rewarding deep brain stimulation to help the baby boomers exercise

September 24 2008 / by iPlant / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Social Issues   Year: General   Rating: 3

The baby boomers are getting older. Their pensions and healthcare will exert an enormous strain on European, north American, East Asian and Australian economies over the next few decades. Advances in medicine and medical technology continue to reduce blood-pressures, patch up hearts, extract cancers and extend life expectancy worldwide, but the brain, it turns out, does not yield to traditional methods, and effective treatments for cognitive decline and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s remain elusive. In the US, the annual cost of care for sufferers of Alzheimer’s is expected to exceed the total current healthcare budget ($1 trillion) as 10 million baby boomers develop the disease (Nixon et al, 2008 , Alzheimer’s Association, 2008).

There is, however, one highly effective preventive treatment: heavy physical exercise cuts one’s risk of stroke and neurodegenerative disease in half (Medina, 2008). Heavy, regular physical exercise improves blood supply to the brain, eliminates free radicals and stimulates the generation of new neurons. In the coming decades, 500 billion dollars or more could thus be saved each year in the US alone if every baby boomer exercised daily. The problem of course is that exercise is difficult and people are sedentary, so sedentary in fact that we are faced with a looming obesity epidemic that compounds the problem of age-related cognitive decline. And there’s no way of using modern medicine to improve people’s motivation to engage in physical exercise, right?

Wrong. A technique called rewarding brain stimulation has for decades allowed researchers to motivate rats to run (Burgess et al, 1991), lift weights (Garner et al, 1991) and learn other behaviours (Hermer-Vasquez et al, 2005).

Here’s how it might work in people: A person needing help to exercise would go to a hospital or a private clinic to be fitted with a deep brain stimulation implant capable of activating his reward system (the dopamine system).

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