A new computerised brain implant can provide a blueprint for developing treatments for a variety of brain-based disorders, according to researchers.

In tests on rodents a team from the NYU Grossman School of Medicine used the computerised implant to effectively relieve ‘short-term and chronic pain’. They say it is the first time a computerised brain implant has been use to ‘detect and relieve’ pain in real time.

“Our findings show that this implant offers an effective strategy for pain therapy, even in cases where symptoms are traditionally difficult to pinpoint or manage,” said senior study author, Dr Jing Wang.

Around one in four adults in America suffer from chronic pain and are typically prescribed drugs that often ‘grow less effective over time’ or trigger addiction habits. The brain implant, which in trials detected and reacted to remedy pain 80% of the time, could be the breakthrough needed to pave the way for paradigm shifting pain treatments that are ‘safe and reliable’.

“Our results demonstrate that this device may help researchers better understand how pain works in the brain,” added lead study investigator, Dr Qiaosheng Zhang. “Moreover, it may allow us to find non-drug therapies for other neuropsychiatric disorders, such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress.”

The team, whose research was published today in Nature Biomedical Engineering, are now exploring ways to develop less-invasive forms of treatments that can be ‘adapted for human use’.

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