Zap-away the blues

June 1, 2007

I just read an article in Discovery News, titled, “Brain Electrodes Zap Depression,” that I found interesting. Essentially, researchers have figured a way to give sufferers of major depression a way to self-medicate with electrical current, targeted to various regions of the deeper brain. I’m not one of the ones that holds on to the stigma surrounding ECT (which is how I see this new form of brain stimulation) – in fact, I rather appreciate the idea of re-booting the human brain (it shows that the gods outsourced at least some of our brain programming to Micro$oft). But I am frankly more comfortable with the idea of having ECT administered by professionals, in a clinical setting, than having magnets and electrodes implanted into my body and administering the voltage to my own self.

One issue the article talks about, for example, is the targeting of the nucleus accumbens, our brain’s reward center; and whether or not users of this self-medicating system might eventually become habituated to stimulating this part of the brain. I think it’s a valid point to consider, since this kind of habituation would be much harder to break, with stuff surgically implanted and wired up the way it is.


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