Electronics to control your mood??
How would you feel if you could make yourself happy at the flick of a switch?
Well that’s what DARPA’s scientists have designed, a device that can literally link into your nervous system and control and even regulate different diseases and chronic conditions such as such as arthritis, PTSD, inflammatory bowel diseases (Crohn’s disease), and depression.
The program called ElectRx, has the goal to replace the medication method of drugs which can have serious side effects upon the other parts of the human body with “closed-loop neural implants”. These implants can constantly monitor your state of health and provide the necessary nerve stimulation to keep damaged internal biological systems active and functioning when under damage or stress.
The ElectRx program will focus on a new age of techno-biological enhancements and utilize the field of what’s known as neuromodulation. The word neuromodulation implies modulating your nervous system to combat an underlining biological problem. This isn’t new practice as there are other techno-biological implants to help a humans, such as the pacemaker, or utilizing the auditory synapsis (hearing aids) which are cochlear implants. Other forms of the technology are DBS (Deep Brain Stimulation) which appear to be capable of curing or at least regulating various conditions such as Parkinson’s or Depression by overriding the brains natural neural transmission with a new one!
One drawback of these implants however is their current size, as they are about the size of a bar of soap. This makes implantation extremely risky especially when operating on sensitive areas of the human body, such as the brain. Another drawback is the placements of the electrodes within the host, even the most technologically advanced electrodes can still be placed “around the right area” but the true precision needed here . What this means is instead of stimulating one neuron follicle scientists end up stimulating many which can be fatal, depending which ones they stimulate.
With ElectRx DARPA want to miniaturize the neuro-modulation implants to the size of the nerve fiber!
By doing this the electrode can be implanted with a minimal effect upon the surrounding tissue, and can be performed by using a single needle. These electrodes would hook onto the nerve and await their input from the user. Or be predefined to understand misguided signals and correct them when contact is made.
These implants cannot regulate every condition as of yet nor can they replace every neuron or nervous system medication treatment. They could be used to help many neurodegenerative diseases and mental health disorders. As these are caused by neurons misfiring or damaged receptors, these are the problems the drugs we take currently address as they try to cajole these problems the neurons present by chemical based neuro-manipulation. This same effect can be achieved by the techno-biological implant as this would catch the misfire and correct its signal then retransmit it.
This technology could revolutionize the world of neuro-medicine and neuro-degenerative diseases, as the implication of drugs could be totally averted. This could also be used by doctors to diagnose a patent, using their nervous system to identify the problem for them. However it could also be used to switch off your pain receptors which would allow you if you were a solider to push your body harder and faster than you ever could before. Or with the right implants you can consciously take control of your internal organs. But is this transhumanism a good thing?
“The technology DARPA plans to develop through the ElectRx program could fundamentally change the manner in which doctors diagnose, monitor and treat injury and illness,” . “Instead of relying only on medication — we envision a closed-loop system that would work in concept like a tiny, intelligent pacemaker. It would continually assess conditions and provide stimulus patterns tailored to help maintain healthy organ function, helping patients get healthy and stay healthy using their body’s own systems.” –says DARPA’s Doug Weber
As the technology to miniaturize the techno-biological neuro-implants isn’t currently available, and would require other technological breakthroughs for this to be achieved DARPA is planning to perform human tests within 5 years. Their efforts of what areas of neuro-degenerate diseases they are going to focus on are still unclear we can expect this technology to hit our hospitals or our minds within the next 10-20 years!