Posts Tagged neurostimulation

[WEB SITE] DARPA Is Planning to Hack the Human Brain to Let Us “Upload” Skills

IN BRIEF

The DARPA Targeted Neuroplasticity Training (TNT) program is exploring ways to speed up skill acquisition by activating synaptic plasticity. If the program succeeds, downloadable learning that happens in a flash may be the result.

MINDHACK FOR FASTER LEARNING

In March 2016, DARPA — the U.S. military’s “mad science” branch — announced their Targeted Neuroplasticity Training(TNT) program. The TNT program aims to explore various safe neurostimulation methods for activating synaptic plasticity, which is the brain’s ability to alter the connecting points between neurons — a requirement for learning. DARPA hopes that building up that ability by subjecting the nervous system to a kind of workout regimen will enable the brain to learn more quickly.

[Taken]Military Researchers Are Hacking the Human Brain So We Can Learn Much Faster
Credit: DARPA

The ideal end benefit for this kind of breakthrough would be downloadable learning. Rather than needing to learn, for example, a new language through rigorous study and practice over a long period of time, we could basically “download” the knowledge after putting our minds into a highly receptive, neuroplastic state. Clearly, this kind of research would benefit anyone, but urgent military missions can succeed or fail based on the timing. In those situations, a faster way to train personnel would be a tremendous boon.

FIRST NEUROSTIMULATION, THEN APPLICATION

As part of the TNT program, DARPA is funding eight projects at seven institutions. All projects are part of a coordinated effort that will first study the fundamental science undergirding brain plasticity and will conclude with human trials. The first portion of the TNT program will work to unravel the neural mechanisms that allow nerve stimulation to influence brain plasticity. The second portion of the program will practically apply what has been learned in a variety of training exercises.

To ensure the work stays practical, foreign language specialists, intelligence analysts, and others who train personnel now will work with researchers to help refine the TNT platform to suit military training needs. Researchers will compare the efficacy of using an implanted device to stimulate the brain versus non-invasive stimulation. They will also explore both the ethics of enhanced learning through neurostimulation and ways to avoid side effects and potential risks.

The Evolution of Brain-Computer Interfaces [INFOGRAPHIC]
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“The Defense Department operates in a complex, interconnected world in which human skills such as communication and analysis are vital, and the Department has long pushed the frontiers of training to maximize those skills,” Doug Weber, the TNT Program Manager, said in a DARPA press release. “DARPA’s goal with TNT is to further enhance the most effective existing training methods so the men and women of our Armed Forces can operate at their full potential.”

If the TNT program succeeds, striving to be all you can be may mean learning at a much faster pace, and not just for military personnel. Downloadable learning may be one of the ways we achieve next-level humanity.

 

via DARPA Is Planning to Hack the Human Brain to Let Us “Upload” Skills

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[Abstract] Transcranial direct current stimulation over multiple days enhances motor performance of a grip task

Abstract

Background

Recovery of handgrip is critical after stroke since it is positively related to upper limb function. To boost motor recovery, transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is a promising, non-invasive brain stimulation technique for the rehabilitation of persons with stroke. When applied over the primary motor cortex (M1), tDCS has been shown to modulate neural processes involved in motor learning. However, no studies have looked at the impact of tDCS on the learning of a grip task in both stroke and healthy individuals.

Objective

To assess the use of tDCS over multiple days to promote motor learning of a grip task using a learning paradigm involving a speed-accuracy tradeoff in healthy individuals.

Methods

In a double-blinded experiment, 30 right-handed subjects (mean age: 22.1 ± 3.3 years) participated in the study and were randomly assigned to an anodal (n = 15) or sham (n = 15) stimulation group. First, subjects performed the grip task with their dominant hand while following the pace of a metronome. Afterwards, subjects trained on the task, at their own pace, over 5 consecutive days while receiving sham or anodal tDCS over M1. After training, subjects performed de novo the metronome-assisted task. The change in performance between the pre and post metronome-assisted task was used to assess the impact of the grip task and tDCS on learning.

Results

Anodal tDCS over M1 had a significant effect on the speed-accuracy tradeoff function. The anodal tDCS group showed significantly greater improvement in performance (39.28 ± 15.92%) than the sham tDCS group (24.06 ± 16.35%) on the metronome-assisted task, t(28) = 2.583, P = 0.015 (effect size d = 0.94).

Conclusions

Anodal tDCS is effective in promoting grip motor learning in healthy individuals. Further studies are warranted to test its potential use for the rehabilitation of fine motor skills in stroke patients.

Source: Transcranial direct current stimulation over multiple days enhances motor performance of a grip task – ScienceDirect

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[WEB SITE] Study shows continuous electrical stimulation suppresses seizures in patients with epilepsy.

When surgery and medication don’t help people with epilepsy, electrical stimulation of the brain has been a treatment of last resort. Unfortunately, typical approaches, such as vagal nerve stimulation or responsive nerve stimulation, rarely stop seizures altogether. But a new Mayo Clinic study in JAMA Neurology shows that seizures were suppressed in patients treated with continuous electrical stimulation.

Epilepsy is a central nervous system disorder in which nerve cell activity in the brain becomes disrupted. In the study, 13 patients with drug-resistant epilepsy were deemed unsuitable for resective surgery, which removes a portion of the brain — usually about the size of a golf ball — that was causing seizures. When patients are evaluated for surgery, a grid of electrical contacts is placed on the brain to record seizures and interictal epileptiform discharges (IEDs). IEDs are electrical discharges that occur intermittently during normal brain function, and have been used as markers to locate portions of brain affected by epilepsy.

In the study, the grid of electrical contacts was used for stimulation at levels the patient would not notice. If the stimulation provided clinical benefit to the patient, this temporary grid was replaced with more permanent contacts that could offer continuous stimulation.

Ten of the 13 patients, 77 percent, reported improvement for both epilepsy severity and life satisfaction. The majority of patients experienced more than 50 percent reduction in seizures, and 44 percent were free of disabling seizures. The reduction in IED rate occurred within minutes of initiating stimulation.

“This study suggests that subthreshold cortical stimulation is both effective clinically and reduces interictal epileptiform discharges,” says lead author Brian Lundstrom, M.D., Ph.D., a neurology epilepsy fellow at Mayo Clinic. “We think this approach not only provides an effective treatment for those with focal epilepsy but will allow us to develop ways of assessing seizure likelihood for all epilepsy patients. It would be of enormous clinical benefit if we could personalize treatment regimens for individual patients without waiting for seizures to happen.”

During seizures, abnormal electrical activity in the brain sometimes results in loss of consciousness. For people with epilepsy, seizures severely limit their ability to perform tasks where even a momentary loss of consciousness could prove disastrous — driving a car, swimming or holding an infant, for example. Approximately 50 million people worldwide have epilepsy, according to the World Health Organization.

Seizures sometimes have been compared to electrical storms in the brain. Seizure signs and symptoms may include:

•Temporary confusion
•A staring spell
•Uncontrollable jerking movements of the arms and legs
•Loss of consciousness or awareness

Treatment with medications or surgery can control seizures for about two-thirds of people with epilepsy. However, when drug-resistant focal epilepsy occurs in an area of the brain that controls speech, language, vision, sensation or movement, resective surgery is not an option.

“For people who have epilepsy that can’t be treated with surgery or medication, effective neurostimulation could be a wonderful treatment option,” Dr. Lundstrom says.

The risks of subthreshold cortical stimulation are relatively minimal and include typical infection and bleeding risks as well as the possibility that the stimulation would not be subthreshold and would be noticed by the patient, Dr. Lundstrom says. The authors note that further investigation is needed to quantify treatment effect and examine the effect mechanism. The authors plan to examine the efficacy of this approach in a prospective clinical trial.

This study represents ongoing efforts to restore normal function to epileptic brain tissue by using neurostimulation. Other efforts are aimed at understanding the physiologic changes that chronic stimulation produces in brain tissue.

Source: Study shows continuous electrical stimulation suppresses seizures in patients with epilepsy

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[WEB PAGE] Axelgaard Education Chapter 1: Electrode Placement and Functional Movement

We are pleased to sponsor the Electrode Placement and Functional Movement™ series presented by Dr. Lucinda Baker, Associate Professor at USC Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy.

These videos provide comprehensive information on the preparation and use of electrodes for effective neurostimulation treatment. All electrodes used in the video presentation are PALS® neurostimulation electrodes.

We trust these videos will assist your efforts in providing the most effective treatment to your patients.

Chapters

DVD copies available for purchase.

Source: Axelgaard Education Chapter 1: Electrode Placement and Functional Movement

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[WEB SITE] Neurostimulation’s promise for patients

New report reveals hope on the horizon for effective treatment of debilitating medical conditions

A new generation of neurostimulation devices – offering patients a radical transformation in treatment options – is just around the corner. Highly personalised and effective, the new treatments promise few, if any, side effects – and open up a whole new ecosystem of care, according to a report from product design and development firm Cambridge Consultants.

Neurostimulation is already an established treatment for conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, chronic pain and epilepsy. But advances in technology and clinical knowledge mean the therapy is now at a breakthrough point, making it possible to treat a wide range of new conditions – from traumatic brain injury to migraine, incontinence and even some cases of obesity – and improve the quality of life for millions of patients…

more –> Neurostimulation’s promise for patients | Cambridge Consultants.

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[A review] Neurostimulation for traumatic brain injury

Abstract

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) remains a significant public health problem and is a leading cause of death and disability in many countries. Durable treatments for neurological function deficits following TBI have been elusive, as there are currently no FDA-approved therapeutic modalities for mitigating the consequences of TBI.

Neurostimulation strategies using various forms of electrical stimulation have recently been applied to treat functional deficits in animal models and clinical stroke trials. The results from these studies suggest that neurostimulation may augment improvements in both motor and cognitive deficits after brain injury. Several studies have taken this approach in animal models of TBI, showing both behavioral enhancement and biological evidence of recovery.

There have been only a few studies using deep brain stimulation (DBS) in human TBI patients, and future studies are warranted to validate the feasibility of this technique in the clinical treatment of TBI. In this review, the authors summarize insights from studies employing neurostimulation techniques in the setting of brain injury. Moreover, they relate these findings to the future prospect of using DBS to ameliorate motor and cognitive deficits following TBI.

JNS – Journal of Neurosurgery –.

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