Epilepsy, Parkinson's: a new brain implant promises to be revolutionary

A brain implant that would treat epilepsy, and other neurological diseases such as Parkinson's disease has been developed by researchers.

Brain stimulation is used by doctors to treat depression, the effects of a stroke, or epilepsy. This technique involves sending electrical impulses to control brain activity. However, until now, the devices used do not stimulate brain activity and record at the same time. A team of American researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, have developed a neurostimulator that seems to achieve this. Their study is published in the journal Nature Biomedical Engineering.

The implant allows to control the movements

This brain implant, called "WAND" could improve the treatment of epilepsy and Parkinson's disease, two neurological conditions. The device is able to monitor the electrical activity in the brain and learn to identify abnormal signals, heralding a crisis or tremors. The implant can then modulate these electrical signals to avoid them. The researchers first tested WAND on macaques. They taught them how to use a joystick to move a cursor on a screen to specific places. Then, the brain implant learned to detect brain signals that corresponded to the movement of macaques. He was then able to send electrical impulses, which allowed to delay these movements.

The hope of a treatment adapted to each patient

"Delaying the reaction time has already been demonstrated, but this is the first time that this is done in a closed-loop system, which relies solely on neurological recording," says Rikky Muller, assistant professor and senior lecturer. one of the authors of the study. The fact that WAND can stimulate the brain and record brain activity at the same time could lead to treatments tailored to each patient, each condition. "Because we can actually stimulate and record in the same brain region, we know exactly what happens when we provide therapy," notes Muller.