April 14, 2008
iPlant is an idea of a ‘supercharged’ DBS implant that nearly is possible with today’s technology. While the first versions might not affect autism greatly (yet significant benefits would be likely), tuning it up might offer the ability to change the operation of entire brain networks to more closely resemble a NeuroTypical person’s brain. This is definitely the future of brain implants and hopefully, better and happier life for a lot of people! Of course there are obstacles and even dangers on the course but these are quite possible to tackle given enough public/benevolent political demand for iPlant (‘If there’s a will, there’s a way’ is very true here).
To find out more:
December 28, 2007
Transcranial magnetic stimulation is likely to gain more popularity in the future because it is an almost side-effect free treatment and non-invasive.
The Elata foundation was founded to promote rTMS. In the future they are seeking to develop plans for sharing to anyone that wants to have their own rTMS built.
It hasn’t been clinically tested for autism and it has only been used for auties with catatonia (where it was successful) but there are anecdotes that it has made depressed people not only not depressed but f. ex. smarter so it can be considered to have a wealth of positive effects (though I agree that for many autistics being smarter is not often necessary anymore…but there could be cascade effects on emotional circuits too).
One major downside could be said to be the cost (only a few places in the US perform commercial rTMS and they charge insanely; I’ve read about $2000 / week) and the other, lack of availability (there may be machines in use for research but they aren’t used – I have no idea why this could be).
Here’s a new randomized study on depression treatment which proves it to be effective.
April 18, 2007
Deep brain stimulation has been done for Parkinson’s disease, dystonia and other such serious diseases but a few people with Tourette’s syndrome and OCD have also been treated. The last few years there has been increased research and interest into DBS for depression. http://www.forbes.com/forbeslife/health/feeds/hscout/2007/04/16/hscout603735.html
It’s interesting that no research at all (that I know of) has been put into DBS treatment of autism, because after all, there are lots of cases of autism that cause as much suffering to the people as the aforementioned conditions.
Personally I would consider brain surgery if it became possible (maybe it is and I just don’t know about it – can someone help?) even if it cost a lot. I’m not worried about myself getting into a worse shape because even surgeries where they never targeted mood structures, many people experience a better mood and more energy.
The price of the surgery is a big problem though. The cheapest quote for DBS surgery with Medtronic electrodes has been $13,000 and that was for Parkinson’s, in India (www.parkinsonindia.org). Then there is the price of additional surgeries if something isn’t working appropriately or when the batteries run out (about once every 5 years). Expect to part of maybe 3-4 times that money if you want to have surgery in a western country.
Future of DBS implants: http://www.mindupdate.com/?p=42