Image credit – Rikky Muller/UC Berkeley


If you know someone who suffers from a heart condition, there is a chance that they might be wearing a pacemaker. For those unfamiliar, a pacemaker is a device designed to help regulate the wearer’s heart rhythm to help prevent abnormal rhythms, such as arrhythmias. But what if pacemakers could be used to control other organs?

That’s what engineers at the University of California, Berkeley did when they created a neurostimulator which has since been referred to as a “pacemaker for the brain”. The concept behind the stimulator is similar to that of a pacemaker for the heart, in which it monitor’s the brain’s electrical activity. Upon detection that something is amiss, it will help to deliver eletrical stimulation.

It sounds like it could come in handy in treatment patients who suffer from tremors or seizures, but it has been pointed out that due to the fact that the electrical signals that precede a seizure can be extremely subtle, and that the frequency and strength of electric stimulation required to “counter” it varies, it will take some fine tuning before this device can be used in patients.

According to Rikky Muller assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer sciences at Berkeley, “The process of finding the right therapy for a patient is extremely costly and can take years. Significant reduction in both cost and duration can potentially lead to greatly improved outcomes and accessibility. We want to enable the device to figure out what is the best way to stimulate for a given patient to give the best outcomes. And you can only do that by listening and recording the neural signatures.”

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