Seven Positive Life-Changing Neurotechnologies
When you think of the future of humanity, you probably immediately envision the presence of sophisticated technologies. Indeed, the union of people and machines is almost inevitable. It’s an idea that writers like Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, and Philip K. Dick anticipated in many of their novels.
In a way, that future is already here. After all, none of us can go for a moment without our technological resources. What’s more, now that artificial intelligence projects like ChatGPT have now arrived, our ways of working are going to change over time. In fact, today, one notable advance in terms of technology comes in the terms of devices connected directly to our brains.
One example is Neuralink, devised by the businessman and magnate, Elon Musk. This company specializes in the development of computer-brain interfaces. They’re now waiting to test various chips in humans. Therefore, shortly, there’ll be non-invasive neurotechnologies that’ll be a complete revolution in the field of mental health.
Indeed, what once seemed like science fiction material, in a few years, will be a hopeful reality.
“Magic’s just science that we don’t understand yet.”
-Arthur C. Clarke-
Neurotechnologies to change our lives
We know that technological advances have already brought infinite benefits to the field of medicine. yet, in the fields of neuroscience and mental disorders, it appears that, to date, no great milestones have been achieved. That said, there are more sophisticated resources in existence for exploring the brain. For instance, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Over recent years, new technologies coupled with state-of-the-art computational analysis, modeling, and artificial intelligence have been changing things. For example, we can see what’s happening at the neurological level in multiple mental disorders. This makes it easier to develop more effective treatments. Moreover, to understand these mental conditions in more depth.
Neurotechnologies are aimed at improving the health and potential of the human brain. In fact, this area is attracting increasingly more interest and investment from large companies. We’re going to explore some future developments in this field that, as we mentioned earlier, are non-invasive resources.
One of the most promising neurotechnologies is related to cranial stimulation. It seeks to reduce suicidal ideation in the younger population.
1. Search for biomarkers of chronic pain and depression
Artificial intelligence added to electroencephalography (EEG) and Big Data will soon allow better diagnoses. For instance, a patient will only have to put on a cap with various electrodes, for a precise vision of their brain activity to be obtained. Thanks to these resources, experts will be able to compare information and obtain the precise patterns of numerous conditions.
The developments that are most advanced are those relating to chronic pain and depression. For example, the Technical University of Munich (TUM), is developing Neurotech, a field of innovation that seeks to provide better care in the area of mental health.
2. Brain stimulation to treat depression in young people
Deep brain stimulation is an approach that’s already been used successfully in the treatment of major depression. However, there’s one sector of the population that requires considerable attention. This is because, often, neither psychological nor pharmaceutical treatments offer any improvements for them.
These are young people between the ages of 16 and 24 with depression and suicidal behavior. In this regard, experts have developed a device that stimulates the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. This technique, added to cognitive exercise sessions, reduces the symptoms associated with depression.
3. Assistive Brain Devices
Companies like Medtronic, Neuropace, and St. Jude Medical have developed technologies that can change the quality of life for many people. Although we tend to only think of Elon Musk’s Neuralink project, the truth is that there are many organizations working on specific advances that’ll soon be seeing the light of day.
One such project is to create brain devices that prevent epileptic seizures. There’ll also be technologies that, via continuous monitoring, improve the administration of certain drugs according to the patient’s needs.
In addition, patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) will have robotic assistance devices. Thanks to these, they’ll be able to drive and have greater autonomy during the different phases of their disease.
4. Virtual reality treatments for trauma
Other neurotechnologies already in use in psychological therapy settings are those related to virtual reality. They’re currently extremely useful in the treatment of phobias and dementias, and for treating children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). However, shortly, a further step is to be taken.
In fact, in a few years, a virtual reality technology combined with brain stimulation will be developed to treat patients with post-traumatic stress disorder. By the use of gradual sessions, this treatment will seek to negate the negative impacts caused by adverse events.
5. Specialized cognitive training video games
Most of us play games on our cell phones to exercise our memories. Indeed, these are useful resources for older adults as they facilitate good cognitive stimulation. This is a significant field in neurotechnology and it undoubtedly explains why specialized video games are being developed for this purpose.
Therefore, cognitive training that seeks to enhance fluid intelligence, as well as working memory, is a resource that’ll shortly be within our reach.
Video games for training cognitive skills will be useful in promoting healthier aging and improving skills in children, as well as in those people who’ve suffered neurological accidents.
6. Devices for concentration and self-regulation
In an increasingly stimulant and multitasking world, attention is almost on the brink of extinction. Consequently, it’s now difficult for us to focus our mental resources on single activities. Concentrating is exhausting and our minds escape us. This feeds stress and feelings of low productivity.
The wearables or technology that can be worn as if they were watches or headphones, will soon begin to have another purpose. As a matter of fact, experts are designing devices to improve our attention and promote calm and emotional self-regulation. Will this mean the end of anxiety? We’ll have to wait and see.
7. Brain-computer interfaces
BCI ( Brain-Computer Interface) systems are already here. They consist of interfaces that connect the human mind with the computer, to translate its thoughts and transfer them to electronic devices. We know this might sound like science fiction, but we must analyze what they consist of if we want to understand their usefulness.
These new technologies detect and decode the electrical activity of neurons. In turn, they send the messages to a device that carries out a specific action. In effect, brain-computer interfaces are neurotechnologies that fulfill the rehabilitation of lost functions. This would be key for patients with nodular lesions or who’ve suffered strokes.
We often tend to consider the risks associated with technological revolutions. For example, chatbots or artificial intelligence. However, as always happens in science, the key lies in the use we make of it.
Today, there are certain neurotechnologies that already form a part of many therapeutic and medical settings. But, in the future, there’ll be new and exceptional resources with the single objective of improving our quality of life in many areas. This is the best goal of all, a purpose that, although it may have seemed like magic before, will probably come true sooner than we could ever have thought.
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
- Dhami, P., et al. (2022) Neurophysiological impact of theta burst stimulation followed by cognitive exercise in treatment of youth depression. Journal of Affective Disorders. doi.org/10.1016/j.jadr.2022.100439.
- Saha, S., Mamun, K. A., Ahmed, K., Mostafa, R., Naik, G. R., Darvishi, S., Khandoker, A. H., & Baumert, M. (2021). Progress in Brain Computer Interface: Challenges and Opportunities. Frontiers in systems neuroscience, 15, 578875. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnsys.2021.578875
- Spaett, V. (2023). Neurotechnology for Treating Mental Disorders. Research Network Uses Big Data Models to Understand Neural Networks. Research in Bavaria. Technical University of Munich (TUM). https://www.research-in-bavaria.de/neurosciences/neurotech-for-mental-disorder