The resulting mood decoder allowed the researchers to determine how each volunteer was feeling based on readings from electrodes in their brains. In theory, the technology should be more widely available, allowing us to peer into the minds and well-being of people with mood disorders.
Now, Shanechi and her colleagues are working to create what they call a “closed-loop” system. It’s a device that tracks brain activity, recognizes when things go wrong, and automatically stimulates the brain to make things “normal” — for anyone. This should help users regulate their emotions. “The idea is that you’ll be able to personalize treatment based on the needs of the patient,” Shanechi said.
Currently, the team is working on developing computer models that can understand brain recordings. Not only does any device need to be able to decode emotions, it also needs to figure out the best way to restore beneficial activity in an individual’s brain.
Shanechi hopes that eventually these models can be used with wireless brain electrodes.There’s tantalizing evidence that it works, proving a woman named SarahA UCSF team implanted a similar closed-loop system to track specific patterns of brain activity that seemed to become apparent when Sarah’s depressive symptoms were particularly severe. Not exactly a mood decoder, but a “neural sensor”. The device will then deliver electrical pulses.
It seems to work. As Sarah said in a press conference last year: “My depression is under control, which has allowed me to start rebuilding a life worth living.”
Sarah’s story is covered by my colleague Charlotte Jee More detail last year.
Brain stimulation has been explored for many brain functions. Noninvasive stimulation may even improve memory in older adultsas shown A study I reported.