The US military wants brain implants to treat combat trauma

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The US military wants brain implants to treat combat trauma

For soldiers coping with brain injuries and post-traumatic stress, coming home may be tougher than the actual fighting; their conditions can last a lifetime. Long-term relief may be on the horizon for US veterans, though. DARPA is supporting the White House's brain mapping initiative by funding the development of implants (conceptualized below) that alleviate the symptoms of warriors' mental problems, ranging from PTSD to extreme depression. The technology, built by Massachusetts General Hospital, Draper Laboratory and UC San Francisco, will use sensors to watch for unusual neural activity at multiple parts of the brain. If something's wrong, the implants will use deep electrical stimulation to restore healthy activity -- permanently, if possible.

Affected veterans will have to wait a while to see results. Clinical trials for the implants aren't expected until five years from now, and it'll take longer still for a wide-scale deployment; researchers want to be cautious and avoid the ethical problems inherent to altering someone's mind. Eventually, though, returning troops may get to leave most of their stress on the battlefield.

[Top image credit: AP Photo/Chitose Suzuki]

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