Engineers at UC Berkeley have developed a neurostimulator that can be extremely effective atpreventing debilitating tremors or seizures in patients with a variety of neurological conditions.1
The wireless artefact-free neuromodulation device (WAND) has been coined a “pacemaker for the brain.” It is autonomous; once it learns to recognize the signs of tremor or seizure, it can adjust the stimulation parameters on its own to prevent the unwanted movements.
It is closed-loop, meaning it simultaneously listens to and stimulates electric current in the brain, potentially delivering fine-tuned treatments to patients with diseases like epilepsy and Parkinson disease in real-time. It can do such on 128 channels.
For their study, the researchers tested the WAND’s effectiveness in primates, where the device was able to recognize and delay specific arm movements.
“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,” said Rikky Muller, PhD, study co-author. “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.”2