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Fixing the Brain With Computers

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Richard Bucholz, M.D.

Richard Bucholz, M.D.

Credit: Saint Louis University School of Medicine

Disabilities such as epilepsy, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and Parkinson’s disease are being treated with neuroimplants, says St. Louis University School of Medicine researcher Richard Bucholz in an interview.

He notes that some scientists are working to substitute hearing for sight in blind people, and still others want to solve blindness entirely by implanting cameras in the brain. Bucholz is a leading participant in the Human Connectome Project, a $30 million U.S. National Institutes of Health initiative to map the human brain. He says one of the project's focal points is vagal nerve stimulation, which involves implanting a device around a nerve that travels along with the carotid artery in the neck. It has been found that manipulation of this nerve can have a variety of effects on the brain, and could be used to treat depression and epilepsy.

Bucholz says the project also wants to help blind people by developing a camera system mounted on a highly modified pair of glasses that can visually stimulate the cortex. Human Connectome researchers also are developing similar technology for deafness, except that instead of a camera, it uses a microphone, which is placed behind the ear in the mastoid.

From IEEE Spectrum 
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