Thursday, April 20, 2017

Brain stimulation makes you a super soldier?

The brain is still a frontier of human research. There are many unknown activities in each region of the brain.

Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is one of the therapeutic solutions for some brain diseases. Implanting a needle stimulated with electricity to a particular area of the brain can improve some physical and mental symptoms. DBS has been established as a treatment for Parkinson's disease, and also discussed for depression.

And recently, more aggressive usage of DBS seems to be considered in the US army.

Naval Special Warfare Command officials presented the latest result of an experiment. Its goal was to enhance the ability of concentration in soldiers.

International Business Times: Super Soldier: US Navy Seals having their brains zapped to improve shooting ability

The outcome was expecting, according to the report. Participants whose brain was stimulated made an improved performance in a long-term task.

This result is amazing, if true. But, an extreme cautiousness is required in the implementation. In my experience, DBS has several adverse effects, including severe depression leading to a suicide of the patient. As well, longitudinal effects should be examined. Even if electrical stimulation is not carried out, implanting a needle itself causes a change in the brain function. Some people who took the DBS operation experience a considerable change of mood several months after the surgery.

The man-machine interface was just a fantasy until recently. It is real today. We are encouraged to make further progress in this academic region.

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