TECHNOLOGY

This woman’s brain implant applies electricity to her when she feels depressed


Sarah, a 36-year-old woman living in California, has lived with chronic depression for five years. She felt suicidal several times an hour and was unable to make decisions about basic questions such as what to eat. Nothing I’ve tried to treat has helped, including ECT.

Then, in June 2020, an implant was inserted into her skull that made her ill. The great results published in nature medicine Today, the potential for personalized therapies is raised for people who have severe mental illness and do not respond to treatment or medication.

“My depression was cleared up, and that allowed me to start rebuilding a life worth living,” Sarah said at a press conference. (Her name is not mentioned.)

The installation of the device involved several steps. First, a team at the University of California, San Francisco, used 10 electrodes to map Sarah’s brain activity. This phase lasted 10 days, during which time the team found that high levels of activity in a specific part of Sarah’s amygdala predicted the onset of major depression. They also demonstrated that a small blast of electricity in another area of ​​her brain, called the ventral striatum, significantly improved these symptoms. After that, they implanted a file nerve stimulation The device is set to fire a small electrical pulse in that area when it detects high levels of activity associated with depressive symptoms.

Sarah (pictured above) can’t feel these electrical explosions, and she is, because they’re blasting up to 300 times a day; Each lasts for six seconds. The device does not emit any slip at night because it leads to feelings of energy and alertness, which may interfere with Sarah’s ability to sleep.



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