IEEE Spectrum magazine published an excellent deep and engaging look at how electricity is now being used to cure, or at least relieve, severe cases of depression. The techniques involve electromagnetically tweaking specific parts of the brain via implanted electrodes, current, or magnetic fields. (Previous posts on the subject here, here, and here. I also wrote about it in Popular Science in 2004.) The devices range from a "pacemaker" for your brain to a transcranial magnetic stimulator (seen here) that is used for just minutes each day but can alter your brain in the long term. From the article:
One problem with (neuropharmaceuticals) is that drugs work everywhere in the brain that their chemical target exists, regardless of whether those parts have anything to do with depression or any other disease, and that leads to side effects. Prozac, for example, has been known to reduce sex drive and can cause insomnia. Another problem is that brain chemistry varies from person to person, so no single drug will work in everyone.
The shared goal behind the new electromagnetic therapies, on the other hand, is to use electricity itself to restore the signaling, ideally, only in those parts of the brain affected by disease. Decades ago, neuroscientists demonstrated that electrically stimulating a neuron alters, in the long term, the strength of its connections to other neurons–making an electrical signal from one neuron more likely or less likely to jump to the next neuron. Though little is known in detail about how the new therapies work, it's likely that, to varying degrees, they depend on that phenomenon.
Where are our petabyte drives? Brian Hayes takes us through the reasons storage is “stuck” in the low terabytes. The tl;dr is that we got such exceptional capacity growth in the late 90s and early 00s we don’t need much more right now, so the focus since then has been on SSDs, networking, interfaces, etc, […]
Amélie Lamont, a former staffer at website-hosting startup Squarespace, writes that she often found herself disregarded and disrespected by her colleagues. One comment in particular, though, set her reeling — and came to exemplify her experiences there.
In this episode of the Flash Forward podcast we travel to a future where humans have decided to eradicate the most dangerous animal on the planet: mosquitos. How would we do it? Is it even possible? And what are the consequences? Flash Forward: RSS | iTunes | Twitter | Facebook | Web | Patreon We […]
Isn’t it about time to stretch what your Mac can do? I mean, you’ve got plenty of great programs now…but don’t you think you could use some new tools to get your creative, analytical and organizational juices really flowing? It’s spring, so we cleaned up a whole bunch of super-cool apps lying around and packaged […]
In the world of app development, there’s no greater arena to find success than with Android users. About 80% of the smartphones in use today worldwide operate on the Android operating system, so if you build a great app that Android users love, you’re an international rock star. You’ll be able to make sure your […]
Unless you’re a programmer or webmaster, the term SQL probably doesn’t mean much to you. But for those looking to understand more about how and why the web works the way that it does, know this – SQL and its process of managing and presenting large data sets is everywhere…and it’s the most in-demand programming […]