Hi-Tech Medicine

Neuroscience_Neurology.jpgQuestion: How can recent technological advances evolve the fields of neurological and psychiatric treatment and diagnosis?

Background: If you have been watching the technology section in your local newspapers you have no doubt noticed the stream of advertisements flaunting the latest evolution of hi-tech devices. These objects range from camera cell phones to virtual keyboards and beyond. More amazing though, is the increasing translation of so-called “hard science” into what I term “pop science.”

Lie detector technology, for example, is used to screen dating club members and DNA sequencing that was first used to determine the specific disease susceptibility of newborns is now employed by would-be parents to screen for potential mates. Even Near Infrared Spectroscopy which can be used to measure brain activity has been co-opted by the music industry in an effort to anticipate which selection on a newly released CD is most likely to be a hit. So I was wondering — why we can’t use all of this creative energy to help researchers and patients alike? Let me here what you have to say.


  • Anonymous

    There have been quite a few articles, including that of a speech made by Dr. Mayberg’s research partner, neurosurgeon Dr. Andres Lozano to the International Functional Eelctrical Society in 2001.

    More recently, there have been psychiatric studies using PET scans that are able to discern whether or not certain antidepressants will work.

    The Deep Brain Stimulation is the current culmination of technology and psychiatry. Each stimulant nodule must be set in a certain place otherwise, the location stimulation will effect different neurons and nucleaus’. The result of this is an alternate effect will occur other than the intended lowering or erasing of depressive symptoms.

    In a personal estimate of ten years or so, brain stimulation will not be limited to depression and parkinsons. Such maladies like OCD, ADHD, bipolar mood disorder will be treated by stimulating different parts of the brain.

    Just as in the last few years, we have been reaping the rewards of numerous years of research in the field of psychopharmacology as well as other type of medications, in ten to fifteen years, we will be the benefactor of neuro-psychiatry.


    always learning

  • Dear “Always Learning,”
    Thanks for the mention of Dr. Lozano, the neurosurgeon and Chair in Functional Neurosurgery at the University of Toronto. I Googled and fournd his speech that you referenced and your were right- it was really inspiring. As you hinted, he pulled back the veil on some intruiging ideas, for instance, wrist wacth-like, deep brain stimulating (DBS) device that might detect a Parkinson’s Disease-related arm tremor and automatically initiate a current directed into the brain to supress it..

    Dr. Lozano also comments on the work of his colleague Helen Mayberg, who uses positron emission tomography (PET) imaging of the brain to pinpoint differences in the physiology of clinically depressed patients who are reactive versus those are resistant to pharmacological intervention. He extends on her theory, by suggesting that DBS might be used to modulate those refractory areas, making them more susceptible to potentially beneficial drugs. There are at least a half dozen ideas that I have not mentioned from his seven thousand-word speech, each more seductive that the last, but maybe we could run a Brain Blogger series featuring excerpts from the speech during a week’s time or so.


  • Anonymous

    Nice idea, but who is qualified to do these kind of treatments, psychiatrists? Probably not. I think high-tech implies low availability to us, the masses.

  • Point well made “Anonymous” and thanks for the post. You have hit on something quite controversial in the field of neurology. Specifically, whether or not psychiatrists should be trained as therapists or as brain scientists. The advent of functional MRI and like technologies seems to suggests that if these technologies are to be used for diagnoses, then the physicians should be trained to interpret them. Any more thoughts out there Bloggers?

  • Pingback: Parkinson’s Disease and Deep Brain Stimulation - Good Idea or Not? | GNIF Brain Blogger()

Shaheen E Lakhan, MD, PhD, MEd, MS, FAAN

Shaheen E Lakhan, MD, PhD, MEd, MS, FAAN, is a board-certified neurologist and pain specialist, medical educator, and scientist. He is the executive director of the Global Neuroscience Initiative Foundation (GNIF). He is a published scholar in biomarkers, biotechnology, education technology, and neurology. He serves on the editorial board of several scholarly publications and has been honored by the U.S. President and Congress.

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