- Deep brain stimulation implant was created by Stanford University researchers
- It aims to boost activity between regions in charge of memory and thinking
A brain implant designed for people with head injuries has proven so successful during trials that participants refused to turn the device off.
The deep brain stimulation implant, created by researchers at Stanford University to help people with head injuries to function again, attempts to boost activity between the regions of the brain in charge of memory, thinking, problem solving and consciousness learning.
Five people with head injuries reported they were able to concentrate, remember, drive and get through the day without needing to nap as a result of using the device during the trial.
And it proved so effective that two participants, chosen at random, refused to have the device turned off.
Participants for trial were selected based on their injuries, with those who took part having previously recovered from comas.
The deep brain stimulation implant attempts to boost activity between the regions of the brain in charge of memory, thinking, problem solving and consciousness learning (Stock Image)
It was created by researchers at Stanford University to help people with head injuries to function again (Stock Image)
‘In these patients, those pathways are largely intact, but everything has been down-regulated,’ said Dr Jaimie Henderson, professor of neurosurgery, told the Telegraph.
‘It’s as if the lights had been dimmed and there just wasn’t enough electricity to turn them back up.’
By introducing electrical stimulation in specific areas of the brain, researchers hoped to turn the lights back up. They used virtual models of each of the participant’s brains to trial stimulation in different areas.
The devices were then implanted into the brains of participants aged between 22 and 60. They then spent 90 days with it turned on for 12 hours a day.
Researchers say by the end of the trial, the mental processing speeds of participants had improved by an average of 32 per cent.
When one participant had their device turned off for three weeks, their ability to process dropped by 34 per cent.
One participant said that since receiving the implant, they had seen a vast improvement in their functioning abilities.
‘I don’t trip anymore’, they said. ‘I can remember how much money is in my bank account. I wasn’t able to read, but after the implant I bought a book’.
Dr Nicholas Schiff, a professor at Weill Cornell Medicine and co-senior author of the study told the Telegraph the aim is to take the research from the ‘pioneering moment’ forward into therapy