Military Plans To Test Brain Implants To Fight Mental Disorders

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A team of neuroscientists at the University of California at San Francisco will receive $26 million dollars over the next five years from the Department of Defense to develop new "electroceuticals," electricity-based treatments for depression, anxiety disorders, addiction and other mental disorders.

The work, which will also focus on veterans with PTSD, is part of President Obama's Brain Initiative. At UCSF, neuroscientist and neurosurgeon Eddie Chang will lead a team studying volunteers who already have probes in their brains as part of treatment for epilepsy or Parkinson's disease.

(See our coverage on the role epilepsy patients play in brain science)

Chang and others will use these probes to look for the parts of the brain involved in depression and PTSD. Once the scientists have those clues, they’ll work with scientists at UC Berkeley and elsewhere to design tiny electronic implants that can stimulate the cells in faulty brain circuits and, they hope, fix those networks and alleviate symptoms.