Molecular ‘Light Switch’ Could Cure Epilsepsy & Parkison’s

A stunning new medical breakthrough could revolutionize treatment for brain diseases like epilepsy and Parkison’s.

Scientists can now turn on and off specific parts of the brain with a simple flash of light. The new molecular tool, developed by scientists at MIT and Stanford, allows unprecedented control over the brain and could lead to more-effective treatments for epilepsy, Parkinson’s, and other diseases. It could also help neuroscientists crack the language of the brain: the information encoded in the electrical activity of neurons, which forms our memories and directs our every move.

Amazing.

via Johnathan Pearce

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. legion says:

    Ugh. I suppose it’s just the utter bastard in me, but the first thing I noticed is that they specify that they can turn cells on as well as off. I expect DARPA is going to be all over this…

  2. I share similar concerns to those expressed by legion said — any tool or treatment this simple, yet this powerful, can be used for ill purposes just as easily as for good, although my fear is less about DARPA than many other more nefarious organizations. Could such a light be used in the video surveillance cameras now so ubiquitous in the UK? Is Big Brother that close? Hmm…, could this be considered an effective interrogation technique or torture?

  3. Michael says:

    Could such a light be used in the video surveillance cameras now so ubiquitous in the UK? Is Big Brother that close? Hmm…, could this be considered an effective interrogation technique or torture?

    Um, no. This technique is similar in principle to using implanted electrodes, it still requires putting something inside your brain (and in this case, your neural cells too). So unless you don’t trust the person you are going to let open your skull, you have nothing new to worry about.

  4. I’m guessing it’s nothing like the flashing red light from The Andromada Strain.