A next-generation brain implant currently in clinical use for treating refractory epilepsy — to help prevent symptoms including seizures — does not induce changes to patients’ personalities or self-perceptions, a new study of patient experiences shows.
The findings, published in the peer-reviewed journal AJOB Neuroscience will help alleviate some ethical concerns that have been raised around closed-loop brain stimulation devices which could, in theory, have unintended effects on a person’s sense of self or personality.
“Next-generation brain stimulation devices can modulate brain activity without human intervention, which raises new ethical and policy questions. But while there is a great deal of speculation about the potential consequences of these innovative treatments, very little is currently known about patients’ experiences of any device approved for clinical use,” said lead author Tobias Haeusermann of the University of California.
“This issue is becoming even more pressing, as several similar treatments are currently under development for several common neurological and psychiatric conditions, including depression, anxiety chronic pain, Alzheimer’s disease and ischemic stroke — offering the promise of effective new treatments for these debilitating illnesses.”