Military to fund brain chip for treating depression, PTSD

Treating mental illnesses across the USA is wrought with imperfections. Existing treatments like psychotherapy and medications aren't guaranteed to work, especially over time.

The military's research arm is taking a different tact in funding a $26 million project to develop a chip implanted in the skull with the goal of stimulating the brain to treat psychiatric disorders including depression, addiction and post-traumatic stress disorder.

The project aims to record the brain's activity and then develop technology to "correct it," said Edward Chang, neurosurgeon at the University of California San Francisco and team leader on the project, in a statement.

Eventually the device would be removed from the patient.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is funding the five-year project led by UCSF and Massachusetts General Hospital.

"The brain is very different from all other organs because of its networking and adaptability," said Justin Sanchez, DARPA program manager, in a statement. He added that an embeddable device would "allow us to move beyond the traditional static view of the brain and into a realm of precision therapy."

The project is part of President Obama's Brain Initiative, a $100 million effort to research brain mapping that could lead to new ways of treating a wide range of brain disorders, including Alzheimer's, autism and traumatic brain injury.

DARPA has previously funded research for implantable devices that would help people restore memory.


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