what is it?
The cutting edge technology to help patients with mental disorders are effective and yet, too new to be known and too complicated to be understood.
Given the increasing urban population and the trending lifestyle of the 21st century, public health has raised concern among the experts. For example, brain diseases, already, represent a considerable social and economic burden in Europe and around the globe. According to DiLuca et al., with yearly costs of about 800 billion euros and an estimated 179 million people afflicted in 2010, brain diseases are an unquestionable emergency and a grand challenge for neuroscientists.
Advances in technology have been a great help to improve life quality. The applications are broad, ranging from cochlear implants for hearing disorders, to making a prosthetics hand that can feel, or deep brain stimulation (DBS) to handle mental disorders such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, and even severe depression.
DBS is a relevant example of technology-aided therapy that has significantly impacted the treatment of neurological disorders. In this approach, the patient receives a medical device implanted in his body. This device is responsible for interfacing with the nervous system by conducting an electrical current to a specific brain area. Similar to cardiac pacemakers, this implanted device often remains for years within the body. The implanted device consists of three main components: 1) a lead electrode, implanted in the deep brain area, 2) an implanted pulse generator (IPS) package implanted in the chest, and 3) extension cables to connect parts one and two. The generated electrical pulses by the IPS reaches the target brain area via the implanted electrodes. The applied electrical stimulation is believed to help the brain to reorganize itself and acts as a "RESET" button to restore the impaired functions. The resulted benefits are significant in improving the life quality of many patients as the therapeutic effects can be seen in a matter of seconds after activating the system.
As it seems, here, technology interferes with our biology and aims at easing our daily life. In the first look, it sounds strange and fictional but yet, happens to be well accepted by the scientific society. Nevertheless, this novel therapeutic approach has remained unknown to the vast majority of our society and the lack of common knowledge in this area might become more and more present in the upcoming years.
What is it that one needs to know when interacting with such systems and what are important details to be informed about? How can we protect our identity from the emerging novel technologies and where should we draw the line to separate the convenience and enhancements from the essential needs?
The aim here is to address these questions, in a way or another, by providing a deeper understanding of the applications of technology in life science. I tend to benefit from my engineering background to feed the societal curiosity and doubts, and to use different artistic disciplines to manifest a fairly objective perspective on the topic.