The woman’s brain implant ning-zaps her with electricity when she feels she’s upset
Sarah, a 36-year-old woman living in California, has lived with chronic grief for five years. He feels suicidal several times an hour and has not decided on key questions like food. None of his attempts to treat it, including electroconvulsive therapy, helped.
Then, in June 2020, he had an implant inserted in his skull that zapped the parts of his brain that caused his pain. Surprising results, published in Natural Medicine Now, raise expectations of self -treatments for people with severe mental illness who do not respond to therapy or medication.
“My grief was contained, and I was allowed to start building a life worth living,” Sarah said at a press conference. (His last name was not given.)
Installing the device involves several steps. First, the group from the University of California, San Francisco, used 10 electrodes to map Sarah’s brain activity. This phase took 10 days, during which time the team realized that high levels of activity in a specific part of Sarah’s amygdala predicted the onset of severe grief. They also determined that a small burst of electricity in another region of his brain, called the ventral striatum, cured these symptoms. Next, they planted a neurostimulation device and set it to trigger a small pulse of electricity in that area when it detects high levels of activity associated with symptoms of depression.
Sarah (pictured above) can’t feel the electrical bursts, which are the same, as they come up to 300 times a day; each lasting six seconds. The device will not deliver any zaps at night as this will lead to feelings of energy and alertness, which can interfere with Sarah’s ability to sleep.