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.
With the cacophony of an election year ablaze with unparalleled drama being fought on the front lines of Twitter, we find ourselves slowing down and staring at it like a bad accident. The need for escapist relief is perhaps more dire than usual right now. This fall, if it’s drama you crave, but the Hillary […]
Today a future without schools. Instead of gathering students into a room and teaching them, everybody learns on their own time, on tablets and guided by artificial intelligence. Flash Forward: RSS | iTunes | Twitter | Facebook | Web | Patreon | RedditIn this episode we talk to a computer scientist who developed an artificially […]
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, […]
The Lytro Illum is our all-time best-selling camera and here’s our best deal yet. Apply the code “Lytro10” to save an extra 10% off on this camera’s mind-blowing functionality in this exclusive one day only sale.
If you’re looking to earn a top salary in the tech industry, there’s no better career than coding. However, sometimes the hardest part of entering this career path is knowing where to begin.We took the Complete Web Developer Course because it took that decision out of our hands. This course teaches beginner-friendly coding languages that will also help land an immediate […]
To be a Pokémon master, you’ll need a phone that won’t constantly die on you. Because nothing is worse than seeing the screen go black right as you’ve finally found the Charizard of your dreams.That’s why we’re so excited about the LinearFlux PokeCharger Portable Battery ($39.99). With its 3.0 Amp HyperCharging technology, this slim battery will […]