Friday, December 4, 2015
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)
In class we watched a video on Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS). In this video, a reporter attempted to do ordinary tasked like writing and drinking water while his brain was being stimulated with TMS. What was amazing is that this stimulation, which used focused magnetic pulses, prevented him from completing these basic tasks. It was like that part of the brain completely stopped working, but once the stimulation stopped, everything was completely normal. This is both scary and amazing, as you wonder what such a device could potentially do. If such a machine could be shrunk down to helmet size, you could potentially shut down part of someone's brain for an indefinite amount of time. For example, what if this was used to suppress the part of the brain that deals with free speech or individual thinking, if such a place exists. Anyone in possession of such technology could essentially have a zombie army that follows their every command. This would actually make for a very good film plot, and thankfully this idea is more fiction than reality right now. TMS is actually being used rather successfully in treating severe depression in patients who do not respond to therapy or medication. It is a good alternative to ECT treatment, which involves stimulating seizures in patients to cure depression. And unlike ECT, there are very few risks. It will be exciting to see what other benefits of TMS will be discovered in the future, although I won't be buying any mind-stimulating helmets anytime soon.