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Implant-free stimulation could treat brain conditions

You don't need surgery to reach the deepest parts of the brain.
Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
June 4, 2017
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Scientists know that stimulating the deeper regions of your brain can treat Parkinson's and other conditions. But there's a problem: they usually need to open your skull to place implants, which is both time-consuming and risky. Researchers may have a better way, though: they've invented a deep brain stimulation technique that only requires electrodes on your scalp. The trick is to create two high-frequency electrical currents that don't do anything by themselves, but interact with each other deep inside your brain. If you want to target different parts of the brain, you just change the frequencies and placement of the electrodes.

The resolution isn't as good as conventional stimulation techniques, but it's very precise. And importantly, it doesn't affect other parts of the brain -- you won't trigger side effects.

If the creators can refine their method to produce specific effects, they could use it to treat many of the conditions where deep brain stimulation is already useful, ranging from Parkinson's to depression. More importantly, the noninvasive nature should make it easy to tackle different conditions. You wouldn't have to think about wiring or new surgical procedures, after all. While this isn't likely to result in cures, it could lead to treatment that's easy, quick and consistently available.

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