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

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 24, 2009 @01:08PM (#30545090)

    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...

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • by dwulf ( 1049894 ) on Thursday December 24, 2009 @01:17PM (#30545192)
    Curious if this could be the steroids of competitive academia?
  • 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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 24, 2009 @01:53PM (#30545514)

    You don't know about the functional one
    Opiate even if it completely nullify one emotional life can leave you pretty functional
    I used to get high all the time at work using snorted hydromorphone and I used to get raised and perk
    Now that I am sober I look like an hippy and I am not a productive member of society

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 24, 2009 @01:56PM (#30545538)

    By allowing "those people" to spend their money on drugs you guarantee that you (and yours) will always have a competitive advantage over them.

    By remaining drug-free, you will (presumably) be healthier, more intelligent, and wealthier. Thus, you will have access to higher class jobs, a higher class income, and higher class people with whom to socialize and breed.

    If you raise your children to share your values, then they, too, will have this advantage.

    The drug users will, as a consequence of their devotion to drug-use, have to continue working their dead-end jobs in order to feed their drug habit, thus filling an economic role which you do not want to fill.

    Thus, making drugs legal is in the best interest of those who do not wish to use them.

    Surely someone who is selfish enough to talk about "unearned pleasure" is selfish enough to allow others to make decisions that will help secure one's own place in the upper echelons of

  • by Thiez ( 1281866 ) on Thursday December 24, 2009 @02:03PM (#30545610)

    > the intense pleasure most participants derive from it is the reward for the excruciating pains of childbirth and hardships of the childrearing.

    Do you think we should frown upon infertile people having orgasms? I think you're insane.

  • Re:Normal State (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 24, 2009 @02:17PM (#30545752)

    Um, I think that's what he means your normal state will become what would have been your high state. So you'll end up needing to turn up the power. Rinse and repeat. Till it kills you. This happens to many drug addicts. A girl who I was pursuing's father, whom I also knew through work had this. He was a Meth Addict and had taken court ordered drug testing. His test came back with what the laboratory consider three times a fetal level of Meth in ether his pee or blood. He didn't even consider himself HIGH when he went in to the lab. So the body and mind are very good at adapting to a new normal. The brain knows that you are not supposed to be feeling good.

  • Re:Normal State (Score:2, Interesting)

    by DriedClexler ( 814907 ) on Thursday December 24, 2009 @02:22PM (#30545796)

    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 tolerance), you're not getting the same neurological activity from a given dose.

  • by Chyeld ( 713439 ) <> on Thursday December 24, 2009 @04:12PM (#30546610)

    Electricity isn't a magic genie, if you shove a live wire into the wood of your computer desk, it suddenly doesn't start thinking. The ability to carry and act upon those electrical impulses in your head is maintained by the chemicals within and between your brain cells. It is a chemical reaction. And as such, consumes chemicals and requires constant replenishment.

    In fact, most of the time, if you've become desensitized to a chemical (for instance caffeine), what has happened is that the receptors responsible for handling the signals that chemical is causing have become fatigued and no longer act upon them.

    Quick Trivia Fact for you: Your caffeine withdraw headache is believed by some doctors to be caused by the fact that your body keeps replenishing the 'dead' adenosine receptors that have stopped responding due to their over-stimulation. When you stop using caffeine cold turkey, all the sudden you have an over abundance of these receptors, making you overly sensitive to the signals that help control the constriction of your blood vessels. This in turn causes the capillaries in your head to dilate which results in a headache.

    So no, there is no guarantee that a stim would 'work till you died'. It's quite possible and even likely that the receptors being targeted by the stim would give out well before any 'neglect' related damage occurred.

  • by Chyeld ( 713439 ) <> on Thursday December 24, 2009 @06:51PM (#30547648)

    Again, your brain is one vast chemical machine. ANYTHING you experience, ANYTHING, is the result of a chemical process occurring in your brain. The same defenses that 'work' (and honestly, if they really worked, drugs wouldn't) for drugs are going to work for an embedded stim.

    The SOLE point of the electrical signals flowing in your brain is to convey signals between it's parts. All a stim can do is 'hijack' the channel and send it's own signals. At least with drugs, the chemicals introduced do some of the heavy lifting for you by mimicking the hormones naturally present in your body. All a stim is going to be able to do is induce your own glands to produce what they can.

    Second Trivia Fact: I've read (don't ask why) a few AgSci studies that have shown that while a dairy cow can be milked year round, you have a higher output if you milk them for a set number of months, then let them lay 'fallow' for a number of months before starting back up again. The reason for this is the mammary gland can not cope with constant usage. It has to have time to 'rest and recharge' in order to be at it's top production level.

    The same thing that happens with a mammary gland occurs with the glands that are responsible for the hormones that run your brain. Only unlike the mammary gland, something 'designed' for high volume use, they aren't going to last months at max level output. They are going to last at most days.

    More importantly, unless this stim is omnipresent in your brain (i.e. a nanomachine within each cell) it's going to be located in a specific portion of you head. And unless it's tuned to a far better degree than we have the ability to tune to today, it's going to be sending out a signal that is far of 'spec' for what your brain cells are used to receiving. Eventually, you are going to burn out those cells and create 'scar tissue' around the stim. Especially if you are attempting to do a 'eternal nothingness' deal where the dial is set to '11' for 24/7.

    Yes, the book describe (which I haven't read) sounds as if presents an interesting sociological look, but it does so in the same sense that Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics did, not by creating something that could realistically happen but by investigating how life would be IF it were possible.

  • by jstoner ( 85407 ) on Thursday December 24, 2009 @10:30PM (#30548644) Homepage

    I have deep brain stimulation (DBS) implants for dystonia, and they're hit or miss. Maybe you get some sort of high, maybe your arm goes rigid, maybe you see spots. And for twenty hours of brain surgery, awake--well, I wouldn't have done it if I thought I had any better options.

    The state of the art with this is nowhere near reliable enough to do for nonessential reasons, even if you have some of the best doctors in the world. And the expense--well, if it had been out of pocket, it would have cost me >$300k.

    Or, you can just go score some coke, if you're into that kind of thing.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 25, 2009 @12:13AM (#30549030)


    "... ejaculation of semen is brought about by inserting a probe or electrode in sires rectum and stimulating nerves of the reproductive system by gradually increasing voltage in rhythmic fashion with a rheostat for a short period."

    In case that's not clear:

    I. The rectum is washed with 6% sodium chloride solution.
    2.The probe is then inserted up to about 12 inches and held in a position of rectal floor.
    3. Alternate current increasing in voltage gradually from 0 to 5 volts and returning again to zero within every 5 -10 seconds is initially passed.
    4. The subsequent stimulations made progressively higher so that at about 5th stimulus a maximum of 10 -IS volts is reached. Erection and ejaculation occur at 10 -15 volts when 0.5 to 1 ampere current is flown.

    Santa, can you get me one of these instead? I promise I'll be nice, er, naughty, and of course you can watch!

The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable. -- John Kenneth Galbraith