Responsive Neurostimulation and the rise of real-time, personalized medicine
Nowadays, almost every item on the market can be personalized. Your feet are flat and you have tendonitis? There’s a shoe just for you. You’re a picky eater and need complete control over the toppings on your burrito bowl? Use the Chipotle app to select your preferred rice, beans, and veggies (I’m not sponsored by Chipotle, I just like burrito bowls).
But when it comes to medicine and health, we are lacking in the individualized approach department. Despite the incredible growth of technology over the past few decades, we don’t fully understand how different people develop diseases and respond to treatments. The traditional “one-size-fits-all” approach to medicine often misses the mark because each person’s biophysical constitution is unique.
While it may be easy enough to customize your burrito bowl, developing personalized treatments is a more complicated endeavor, especially in the case of neurological diseases. But, something that all patient-centric approaches have in common is that they are driven by data from you, the patient. Medical decisions are made on the basis of your unique characteristics, including molecular and behavioral biomarkers, rather than on population averages.
Fortunately, brain–computer interfaces (BCI) are paving the way for better, more specific patient care. BCI are a bidirectional communication pathway between an enhanced or wired brain and an external device, meaning the brain sends information to the external device and the external device sends information back 🧠 🔁 🤖
BCI are a bidirectional communication pathway between an enhanced or wired brain and an external device, meaning the brain sends information to the external device and the external device sends information back.
With the ability to collect a wealth of information about the functioning of a patient’s brain as well as regulate neural activity through electrical currents, a subclass of BCI called Responsive Neurostimulation (RNS) is emerging as a promising new technology. Not only does RNS offer the opportunity for individualized patient treatment, but also for treatment that adapts to the state of your brain on a scale of milliseconds 🤯