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Biotech Science

Is Neurostim Becoming a Reality? 249

destinyland writes "There is a current mass market for 'cognitive enhancement' products — and arguments about the black market potential for neurostim. 'The same neurostim device that uses electric impulses from a brain implant to treat people with Parkinson's Disease can be tweaked by a few millimeters and pulse rates to make cocaine addicts feel like they are high all the time... Mix the glamour of surgical self-improvement with the geekiness of high-tech gadget fetishism and you have a niche cosmetic neurostim market waiting to be tapped...'"
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Is Neurostim Becoming a Reality?

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  • by John Hasler ( 414242 ) on Thursday December 24, 2009 @01:03PM (#30545050) Homepage

    You are suggesting do-it-yourself brain surgery? I guess that would be "glamourous". If it works. And if it doesn't, it might win you a Darwin award.

  • Possibilities. . . (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Can I get one tweaked to give me a mind blowing orgasm every time I blink my eyes in rapid succession 10 times?

  • by mi ( 197448 ) <> on Thursday December 24, 2009 @01:08PM (#30545104) Homepage Journal

    The name of the science fiction book [] in Russian would translate as something like "Predating things of the times". I don't think, an English translation is available (yet?), although plenty of their other books have already been translated [].

    (Benevolent) secret police investigate strange goings-on in a leisurely resort town. They discover a very simple to make device is capable of giving a very strong pleasure — endlessly (until the user is interrupted, or the body starves and dies, or — on very rare occasions — the user's own will prevails). The town's attitudes toward the device and its users, as well as similar (but not as all-encompassing) devices are examined...

  • by bmo ( 77928 ) on Thursday December 24, 2009 @01:09PM (#30545116)

    And can I have my droud back, please?



  • by Monkeedude1212 ( 1560403 ) on Thursday December 24, 2009 @01:11PM (#30545136) Journal

    I'll be able to move faster, do more damage, and take more damage, all at a small cost of my health?

    Fire it up!

    • by euxneks ( 516538 )

      I'll be able to move faster, do more damage, and take more damage, all at a small cost of my health?

      Fire it up!

      Tsssss* aaah.
      Man that brings back memories.

  • Normal State (Score:5, Interesting)

    by slifox ( 605302 ) * on Thursday December 24, 2009 @01:12PM (#30545144)
    If one is "high all the time," then that state becomes the normal state, and anytime they aren't "high" means they are in a "low state." Both psychologically and physiologically, one can become tolerant or adjusted to certain states.

    If something is special, doing it all the time detracts from its appeal.
    • Re:Normal State (Score:4, Insightful)

      by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Thursday December 24, 2009 @02:16PM (#30545744) Homepage

      I think that would tend to be the case for chemical stimulation, but when it comes to other means of stimulation, matters of tolerance and resistance are different. For example, when applying electric potential to cause muscular contractions, they happen every single time. And barring tissue damage, the effect never goes away or decreases.

      When chemical balances are at play, the tendency to move to balance at "center" is normal. This is not such a thing.

      • by maeka ( 518272 )

        Pleasure is nothing so simple as "tickle this nerve and you feel good". It is a complex cascade of reactions. Electrical stimulation will induce tolerance as the rest of the brain will eventually compensate for the area under stimulus.

        Your analogy regarding muscle stimulation is overly simplistic as muscle firing is much closer* to simple commands traveling linearly down a telephone wire, whereas pleasure and other complex sensations/emotions/functions are highly involved interactions between many many ne

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      I hate to be the one to have to tell you this, but you can't define away a real phenomenon. That only works in philosophy journals. There, anything goes. Heck, prove space is Euclidean if you want, no one will call you on it until the physicists hear about it!

      The way neurostim works is that it excites the brain activity that goes on when you take a sufficient dose of cocaine, whatever that happens to be. The phenomenon of "getting used to it" arises because, for whatever reason (such as chemical toleran

    • We see that in real life, all around us. A brother in law finally died after decades of being drunk. He was only sober on a very rare occasion. Abusing that liver finally paid off though. They didn't even consider giving him another liver, because he would have pickled the new one in short order. Ehhh.

    • by Tom ( 822 )

      Addicts aren't looking for a "special state". They already are in the phase you describe. They want to get out of the "low state" that ordinary reality has become. It's like hunger or thirst.

  • Major problem... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by religious freak ( 1005821 ) on Thursday December 24, 2009 @01:16PM (#30545180)
    You cannot reboot your brain if it crashes. From my perspective... no thanks, at least for the foreseeable future.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by d474 ( 695126 )
      Yeah, it's good way to brick-your-brain. Let the weirdos of the underworld test this out on themselves. There are a lot of humans (usually of the clubbing type) that are perfectly willing to act as guinea pigs because they buy into the idea that the "next thing" is going to open their mind to a whole new world. Let the successes rise out of that mountain of failures (bricked brains) and in 20 years we might actually have some functional neurostim products.
  • Curious if this could be the steroids of competitive academia?
  • would be just feeling motivated, happy and loved all the time. That's the areas of the brain to stim.
    Hell, could end most crime.

  • I'm skeptical (as usual), but if true, bring it on, Larry Niven style.

    Now our addictive types get toasted on wall current instead of having to steal and carjack their way to their next fix? That seems like a step forward to me.

    Legalize it so we don't get a load of back-street ecstasy peddlers giving everyone deep bone infections.

    And then treat it as a public health issue, and let those susceptible to its lure breed themselves out of the population. It's just evolution in action.

    • by lattyware ( 934246 ) <> on Thursday December 24, 2009 @01:30PM (#30545314) Homepage Journal
      Are you suggesting sensible behaviour from the war-on-drugs crowd? Please. If they were capable of that, then we'd already have legalised drugs. Let's face it, we can't stop drugs, and if we could control them at least they'd be clean, and the profits could go to making drugs for ill people or whatever rather than crime. It's not perfect, but it'd be better than the current situation. Of course, everyone has it beaten into them the current stance is the only good one.
    • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )

      I suspect periodic brain surgery (electrodes in the brain don't work forever) would be far more expensive than buying your drug of choice at its free market value. Actually, it would probably be more expensive than buying your drug of choice at it's existing market value as well.

      • by OhPlz ( 168413 )

        If it's like deep brain stimulation (DBS) that already exists today, the electrodes aren't the component that needs replacing. At least, I've never read anything that suggests they wear out. It's the batteries in the electric pulse generator that need to be replaced. In time, perhaps they'll find a way to make that an external component somehow. If they could perfect the initial surgery to make it affordable, why wouldn't people do it? People are willing to pay thousands out of pocket to have the surfa

    • Hm, I'm curious: how much would a continuous supply of life-sustaining IV and the electricity to run one of these neurostim things cost, per year?

  • by lattyware ( 934246 ) <> on Thursday December 24, 2009 @01:28PM (#30545288) Homepage Journal
    Screw making me happy, I can do that myself. Make one that stops me being lazy, I'll buy it in a second.
  • PSSSH - Awwww year. That's the stuff.

    Here's the sound from the game []
  • by Quiet_Desperation ( 858215 ) on Thursday December 24, 2009 @01:44PM (#30545436)

    Mix the glamour of surgical self-improvement

    Yeah, until they find your body. Then it has all the "glamor" of autoerotic asphyxiation.

  • suicidal (Score:2, Insightful)

    by gearloos ( 816828 )
    I can see it now in the police blog..."His batteries died and he commited suicide before they could be replaced"
  • by DynaSoar ( 714234 ) on Thursday December 24, 2009 @02:45PM (#30546006) Journal

    Let's just start with part of the headline material:

    " 'The same neurostim device that uses electric impulses from a brain implant to treat people with Parkinson's Disease can be tweaked by a few millimeters and pulse rates to make cocaine addicts feel like they are high all the time..."

    This (and TFA) is from "James Kent is the former publisher of Psychedelic Illuminations and Trip Magazine. He currently edits, a drug blog featuring news, humor and commentary."

    Hardly your neuroscience expert, or even much of an educated amateur. Educated enough to be dangerous to his own reputation perhaps. We can hope.

    Where Mr. Kent goes wrong is in thinking the stimulator used for Parky's can stimulate other parts of the same structure (within a "few millimeters), the Substantia Nigra, which produced dopamine which is also released in cocaine use, and that this is the reward center, so that doing so makes one feel high.

    The common misconception is based on the "reward" aspect, and confusion of cause and effect with respect to drug use. The reward system operates in the manner of conditioning or learning, in that its output helps to produce the association between a behavior and a reinforcer. Let's just assume for maximum illustration that the reinforcer here is a cocaine high. We have the drug taking behavior, and we have the cocaine high resulting. The dopamine system puts on the brakes with respect to ongoing seeking/investigating and lets the organism maintain focused attention on the object that produced the positive feeling -- it makes reinforcement possible. Note that it does not cause the high, the reinforcer does that. There are many reinforcers that can make learning occur, and most of them do not cause any sort of high. Just because cocaine causes a release of dopamine does not mean this is the source of the high. No, this is the source of the powerful reinforcement that causes addiction to start. Dopamine does not act as a "reward", it allows a reinforcer to do so effectively regardless of any psychotropic effects. It is the cascade of various neurotransmitters that causes the high. Evidence of this is found in the effect of pramipexole (Mirapex) on people. It is a selective dopaminergic and does not cause any high. But it does (at a high enough dosage) cause obsessive/compulsive use and behaviors much as an addiction and related activities.

    Moving a Parky's stimulator will not produce a high, but it might produce the problems related to addiction.

    I've previously pointed out the lack of facts in h+ articles, and the preponderance of fiction. This article starts out with the latter. Check the rest of it for yourself to see if there are any reliable facts actually taken from known science, or whether they are other common misconceptions put to service to fill white space.

    As for cognitive enhancing drugs, amphetamines and such are behavior boosters, not capable of producing long term cognitive enhancement, unless by enhancement one means seeking more of the same. Cognitive enhancing drugs (nootropics) have been around for over 50 years. The first, hydergine, is the red headed step child of the man who called LSD "My Problem Child", Albert Hoffman. There are many such drugs in use throughout the world except for the US where they are allowed only in the cases where they will not help -- severe progressive dementia. In contract with the very lucrative drugs typically used as congitive enhancers, nootropics have very little side effects or interactions.

    In the cases where cognitiion enhancement is possible, anything related to intoxication is contraindicated and counterproductive. Confusing "reward" with getting high, when it is intended only to related to learning reinforcement is key to understanding this. It is also key to determining whether the source is intent on getting smart or getting high, because the latter refuse to give up on the misconception.

  • Whoever tagged this as !neuroticism probably needs a hug.
  • like mental illnesses like schizoaffective disorder (which I suffer from), schizophrenia, and other mental illnesses that can be disability. Such a device can control brain chemistry by providing the brain with the proper signals to release chemicals to counter the chemical imbalances that cause these mental problems and mental illnesses.

    I would volunteer for neurostim testing, as I suffer from schizoaffective disorder and it has caused disability and career killing. Just to see if it would help others with

  • This reminds me of William Shatner's Tek War series.
  • I'm doing some DIY brain surgery while I am writing this, so far I have isolated the area for language and wit, I'm about to apply my patch to overclock it! Muhahah! Soon I will be posting the best slashdot comments ever!

    Here goes:

    *SUCESS* patch applied sucessfully, so far it seems stable but mayfb &^ng asdhg fsdHkuj ldSfhdj jhll hfhjfds jb ê ....

"I'm not afraid of dying, I just don't want to be there when it happens." -- Woody Allen