Stimulating/Actuating Neurotechnology for Medical Applications
Neurotechnologies designed to provide treatment often rely on direct interaction with the nervous system to supply an external input or stimulation. Since we are not considering drugs in the scope of this framework, electrical inputs are the most common type of stimulation that can be provided with neurotechnologies. With non-invasive technologies, it is possible to stimulate brain activity with surface electrodes ( transcranial direct current stimulation — [tDCS]) or to generate strong magnetic fields that in turn generate electrical fields within the brain (transcranial magnetic stimulation — [TMS]). In these cases, the stimulation is typically less precise and localized when compared to invasive techniques.
Invasive methods like deep brain stimulation (DBS) foresee a more precise injection of current pulses through implanted electrodes targeting deeper regions of the brain. These stimulation technologies allow interfering with biological electric activity, up- or down-regulating the targeted neuronal populations, according to the desired effect. DBS has been successfully used to treat motor symptoms in drug-resistant Parkinson’s disease patients.