The result was a mood decoder that allowed the researchers to determine how each volunteer was feeling based on readings from electrodes in their brains. In theory, this technology could be applied more widely, allowing us to see into the minds and health of people with mood disorders.
Now Shanechi and her colleagues are working to create what they call a “closed-loop” system. It’s a device that monitors brain activity, recognizes when things are going bad, and automatically stimulates the brain to bring things back to “normal” – anything that can be done for any individual. which person. This will help users regulate their mood. “The idea is that you can personalize the therapy to that person’s needs,” says Shanechi.
Currently, the team is working on developing computer models that can understand brain recordings. Any device needs to be able to not only decode moods but also figure out the best way to restore beneficial brain activity to an individual.
Eventually, Shanechi hopes, such models could be used in conjunction with wireless brain electrodes. There is tantalizing evidence that it can work, as proven by a woman named Sarah. A research team at the University of California, San Francisco, implanted a similar closed-loop system to monitor a specific pattern of brain activity that seemed to become apparent when Sarah’s depressive symptoms were particular. bad. Not so much a mood decoder but a “neural sensor”. The device then delivers an electrical pulse.
And it seems to work. As Sarah said in a press conference last year: “My depression was contained, and that allowed me to start rebuilding a life worth living.”
My colleague Charlotte Jee told Sarah’s story more detail last year.
Brain stimulation has explored many functions of the brain. Non-invasive stimulation may even improve memory in older adultsas demonstrated in a study I mentioned.