This ‘Pacemaker for the Brain’ May Treat Parkinson’s and Other Disorders

This ‘Pacemaker for the Brain’ May Treat Parkinson’s and Other Disorders

It tracks what’s happening in the brain, and responds accordingly.

Watching family and friends suffer from terrible neurological disease like Parkinson’s and epilepsy can be very difficult. One of the most frustrating things is the lack of a cure. The very long journey researchers seem to be on, to find one seems endless.

A new development out of the University of California at Berkeley offers a tiny glimmer of hope, however, even if faint.

Researchers have developed a new neurostimulator that can listen to the brain while it stimulates brain activity. It’s been named the WAND, short for “wireless artifact-free neuromodulation device”.

The WAND acts like a pacemaker for the brain by monitoring the brain’s electrical activity and delivering electrical stimulation if it detects something is lacking or firing incorrectly.

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“Because we can actually stimulate and record in the same brain region, we know exactly what is happening when we are providing a therapy,” said Rikky Muller a researcher at Cortera Neurotechnologies, Inc.

Effectively, the WAND can learn to recognize the signs of a tremor or a seizure. According to researchers, it can also adjust its stimulation parameters on its own, in order to prevent the unwanted movements. And it can do all this in real-time.

While research isn’t complete, in the future experts hope to incorporate learning into WAND’s closed-loop platformed. This would mean patients would have a device that could figure out how to best treat them individually, and essentially remove the doctor from having to constantly intervene in treatment.  

Sound promising? For more on this study, click here.

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