For millennia, the human brain has been a largely unexplored frontier. Relative to the whole of human history, studying, understanding, and influencing human thought and consciousness is a radically new endeavor. Only in the twenty-first century has science truly begun to progress far enough into the field of neuroscience for effective neurotechnologies to begin to take shape.
The implications of neurotechnologies for society are vast. From pharmaceuticals that improve quality of life, to brain imaging that revolutionizes our conception of human consciousness, neurotechnologies stand to change our understanding of ourselves and harness the power of the brain and nervous system’s myriad functions to promote human thriving.
The brain is an incredible, complex organ. Every year researchers reveal new information on how the brain functions and how neural circuits operate. And each new discovery presents a new opportunity to make life easier for thousands or even millions of people.
The emerging field of brain–machine interface (BMI), or brain–computer interface (BCI), is just one area of neuroscience that shows great promise. BMI refers to types of neurotechnology that create a direct, artificial link between the brain and external devices, allowing users to, say, control the movement of a prosthetic limb or a computer cursor just by thinking about it.
Understanding the brain and other areas of the nervous system has always been challenging. While research has led to a better understanding at the cellular/neuron level, a clear picture of how those neurons work together as part of a larger system of neural circuits has been more evasive.
Closed-loop neurotechnologies, an expanding area of study, are advancing the reading and writing of activity in the nervous system. This not only opens the door to a better understanding of whole brain function but also the possibility of better treatments for neurological conditions and better neural enhancement technologies.
Brain stimulation therapy is one of the next major frontiers in medical science. These therapies have already shown great promise in the treatment of neurological and mental disorders from Parkinson’s disease to major clinical depression.
Yet brain stimulation therapies are likely still in their infancy; current and ongoing research of brain networks and corresponding treatments suggests that future therapies could treat a much wider range of pathologies with greater efficacy. This article will discuss the history, current state, and future potential of brain stimulation therapy, and how it could change the lives of countless patients to come.
There still exists a number of psychiatric, neurologic, and other brain-related disorders without highly effective treatment. Could neurotherapy hold the key to treating such diseases? Neurotherapy, while still very early in its development, has already shown efficacy in altering brain function to provide relief to patients suffering from a range of disorders. This article will discuss the current state of neurotherapy, as well as promising research for potential future applications.