A new device recently developed for monitoring and controlling seizures in some patients has come about that “melts” into the brain to ensure it operates at the greatest efficiency and causes as little damage to the brain as possible. The device has been created to automatically record brain signals and to transmit signals from the brain to other parts of the body.
Why would such a dramatic style of implantation be pragmatic? And what purpose could they serve? If a patient is suffering a seizure, the implants are designed to track the brain patterns within the patient and react to them with electrical impulses that will allow doctors to monitor what the source could be. Traditional neurological implants were difficult to mold to the brain, each of which is incredibly unique and sensitive physically. And when a surgeon implants a hard piece of plastic and metal, it must be attached to something, meaning precious brain tissue must be used to hold it in place. Of course a neurological implant which melted into place would only require the surface area it was attached to in order to adhere to its specific region.
The base material used in the process is silk, which is a product produced by worms, making it particularly durable. In addition, the materials are treated specially to ensure the brain doesn’t undergo any inflammation. And the same materials, once in the brain will harmlessly dissolve in specific areas as time goes on. The electrodes themselves are implanted into a layer of plastic to ensure it contours to the surface, but still has contact with the tissue.
Given the nature of the implants, they largely will interact with the autonomic nervous system which has control of the lungs, heart, and other functions. As a result, seizures would not only be less frequent, but better understood. Given a recording device, these implants could actually monitor information coming from the brain, and better understand some limited information about triggers to seizures as well. The interesting concept is that though the brain, essentially the greatest computer on Earth will be in close proximity to the implant, the implant will only be able to understand a limited amount of information coming out of it due to interfacing differences. Still, in the end it will be a far better system for tracking than the current methods available to seizure patients.
What other applications could be used for this technology? While the concept of the “super soldier” is often a tempting one, there isn’t a push for this technology to be used for improving observation or reflexes, since the human body is already working at incredible efficiency. It could, however, in time be used to release dopamine in the brain to help with pain management and stave off negative chemical processes such as shock. Of course these applications, while helped by the new brain implant technology, would come with hefty side effects. Of course those who live with chronic pain may some day find themselves more able to cope with their ailments.