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Good survey of brain stimulation methods, value and limitations

brain_stimulationStim­u­lat­ing the Brain: From If to How (The Dana Foun­da­tion):

Recent years have brought mod­ern meth­ods of brain stim­u­la­tion into the main­stream of neu­rol­o­gy and psy­chi­a­try. But their mechanism—how exact­ly deep brain stim­u­la­tion (DBS) relieves Parkinson’s dis­ease symp­toms and how repet­i­tive tran­scra­nial mag­net­ic stim­u­la­tion (rTMS) improves depres­sion, for example—remains obscure. Research into this ques­tion has large­ly shift­ed from effects on iso­lat­ed tar­get areas to com­mu­ni­ca­tion with­in net­works of con­sid­er­able breadth and com­plex­i­ty.

The ques­tion of how the brain wired is togeth­er and func­tions as units in some sort of coher­ence pat­tern is what’s dri­ving every­thing now,” says Helen May­berg, pro­fes­sor of psy­chi­a­try, neu­rol­o­gy, and radi­ol­o­gy at Emory Uni­ver­si­ty and a mem­ber of the Dana Alliance for Brain Ini­tia­tives. Under­stand­ing these sys­tems bet­ter, she and oth­ers believe, will lead to more pre­cise and effec­tive treatment…“Every per­son is bio­log­i­cal­ly unique, and a wide range of ther­a­pies will be nec­es­sary to address these dif­fer­ences.”

Does brain stim­u­la­tion make you bet­ter at maths? (Mind Hacks):

The par­tic­u­lar tech­nique these researchers used, called Tran­scra­nial Ran­dom Noise Stim­u­la­tion (TRNS) is a recent inven­tion, but the use of elec­tri­cal stim­u­la­tion to affect brain activ­i­ty has a long his­to­ry…

Putting these wor­ries aside, we’re not going to see this tech­nique used in the class­room any time soon, even if it holds up. Sup­pose this tech­nique is reli­able, and we real­ly can improve people’s basic maths skills with a bit of elec­tri­cal stim­u­la­tion we’d still hes­i­tate to deploy it. Does it affect any oth­er skills, per­haps tak­ing resources away from them?”

Relat­ed sto­ries:

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Categories: Cognitive Neuroscience, Health & Wellness, Technology

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As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters,  SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking how brain science can improve our health and our lives.

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