What is being described as “Brain-Machine Technology” is a curious new area of study in neuroscience. Some of the first generation “brain-machines” are being used to help symptoms related to Parkinson’s disorder, restore use of paralyzed limbs, reduce seizures, help with post-stroke therapy, and even ease chronic depression. Neuroscientists believe they are taking the next big step in therapeutic options for healing. Electrodes connected to a pacemaker like device are inserted into the brain. The patient, awake during the surgery, will respond to a number of commands all of which are specific to their own needs. Their thoughts relay in real-time to the electrodes, where things like tremors, sad thoughts, or limb stimulation can then be adjusted. The goal of the surgery is to decode and utilize information that is being received and manipulate the brain to respond differently- giving the patient relief, or assistance with their ailment. The surgery has been reported to be helpful, but it is not yet a cure.
Historically, psychosurgery in the 20th century does not leave a good reputation. Suffering beyond anyone’s control? Nothing a good lobotomy couldn’t fix. We have good reason to be wary of treatments that change the actual behavior of the patient. Should science have the obligation or right to alter a personality and call it a cure? This futuristic technology will soon become mainstream as improvements continue. Ideally, deep brain stimulation (DBS) could be used to cure eating disorders, drug addictions, Alzheimer’s, or Tourette’s syndrome. The device itself is being enhanced to have a longer battery life, be made of a less corrosive metal, and of course, become smaller. It might also be possible to have the “brain-machine” and its activity be monitored remotely… by the internet! Perhaps soon we can plug ourselves in at night along with our other “smart” devices…or into the Matrix.