DARPA wants to put chips in the brain of soldiers to help with mental illness


On many occasions, soldiers return from duty with several mental defects that are due to the riveting experience of war. Currently, there’s no real treatment for such cases, but DARPA is aiming to fix that with a chip in the brain. Yes, DotTech reader, DARPA wants to render the psychiatrist useless; so if you’re planning to enter that career field, you may want to think twice.

The project is worth $70 million, and is designed “to develop and apply therapies that incorporate near real-time recording, analysis and stimulation in next-generation devices inspired by current Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS).” That’s basically the long version of saying we’re creating a brain chip that will help the military get a handle on its mental health problems.

Furthermore, the agency’s Systems-Based Neurotechnology for Emerging Therapies (SUBNETS) seeks to understand how these mental health problems manifest in the brain, and how neuropsychiatry might provide better treatment options for veterans.

“If SUBNETS is successful, it will advance neuropsychiatry beyond the realm of dialogue-driven observations and resultant trial and error and into the realm of therapy driven by quantifiable characteristics of neural state,” said Justin Sanchez, DARPA program manager. “SUBNETS is a push toward innovative, informed and precise neurotechnological therapy to produce major improvements in quality of life for service members and veterans who have very few options with existing therapies. These are patients for whom current medical understanding of diseases like chronic pain or fatigue, unmanageable depression or severe post-traumatic stress disorder can’t provide meaningful relief.”

You might think deep brain research is a new thing, however; that’s not the case. The technology is also being used as a treatment for patients with spinal cord injuries, chronic pain, severe depression and other conditions.

The whole thing sounds a bit crazy, but hey, by now we should all know that DARPA is the place where crazy things happen on a regular basis.

[via DARPA, image via Cigar Night Online]

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