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Augmentation of Brain Function: Facts, Fiction and Controversy. Volume I: Brain-Machine Interfaces

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Book Series: Frontiers Research Topics ISSN: 16648714 ISBN: 9782889456147 Year: Pages: 666 DOI: 10.3389/978-2-88945-614-7 Language: English
Publisher: Frontiers Media SA
Subject: Science (General) --- Neurology
Added to DOAB on : 2019-01-23 14:53:43
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Volume I, entitled “Augmentation of Brain Functions: Brain-Machine Interfaces”, is a collection of articles on neuroprosthetic technologies that utilize brain-machine interfaces (BMIs). BMIs strive to augment the brain by linking neural activity, recorded invasively or noninvasively, to external devices, such as arm prostheses, exoskeletons that enable bipedal walking, means of communication and technologies that augment attention. In addition to many practical applications, BMIs provide useful research tools for basic science. Several articles cover challenges and controversies in this rapidly developing field, such as ways to improve information transfer rate. BMIs can be applied to the awake state of the brain and to the sleep state, as well. BMIs can augment action planning and decision making. Importantly, BMI operations evoke brain plasticity, which can have long-lasting effects. Advanced neural decoding algorithms that utilize optimal feedback controllers are key to the BMI performance. BMI approach can be combined with the other augmentation methods; such systems are called hybrid BMIs. Overall, it appears that BMI will lead to many powerful and practical brain-augmenting technologies in the future.

Augmentation of Brain Function: Facts, Fiction and Controversy. Volume II: Neurostimulation and Pharmacological Approaches

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Book Series: Frontiers Research Topics ISSN: 16648714 ISBN: 9782889456154 Year: Pages: 403 DOI: 10.3389/978-2-88945-615-4 Language: English
Publisher: Frontiers Media SA
Subject: Science (General) --- Neurology
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The Volume II is entitled “Neurostimulation and pharmacological approaches”. This volume describes augmentation approaches, where improvements in brain functions are achieved by modulation of brain circuits with electrical or optical stimulation, or pharmacological agents. Activation of brain circuits with electrical currents is a conventional approach that includes such methods as (i) intracortical microstimulation (ICMS), (ii) transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), and (iii) transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). tDCS and TMS are often regarded as noninvasive methods. Yet, they may induce long-lasting plastic changes in the brain. This is why some authors consider the term “noninvasive” misleading when used to describe these and other techniques, such as stimulation with transcranial lasers. The volume further discusses the potential of neurostimulation as a research tool in the studies of perception, cognition and behavior. Additionally, a notion is expressed that brain augmentation with stimulation cannot be described as a net zero sum proposition, where brain resources are reallocated in such a way that gains in one function are balanced by costs elsewhere. In recent years, optogenetic methods have received an increased attention, and several articles in Volume II cover different aspects of this technique. While new optogenetic methods are being developed, the classical electrical stimulation has already been utilized in many clinically relevant applications, like the vestibular implant and tactile neuroprosthesis that utilizes ICMS. As a peculiar usage of neurostimulation and pharmacological methods, Volume II includes several articles on augmented memory. Memory prostheses are a popular recent development in the stimulation-based BMIs. For example, in a hippocampal memory prosthesis, memory content is extracted from hippocampal activity using a multiple-input, multiple-output non-linear dynamical model. As to the pharmacological approaches to augmenting memory and cognition, the pros and cons of using nootropic drugs are discussed.

Augmentation of Brain Function: Facts, Fiction and Controversy. Volume III: From Clinical Applications to Ethical Issues and Futuristic Ideas

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Book Series: Frontiers Research Topics ISSN: 16648714 ISBN: 9782889456161 Year: Pages: 338 DOI: 10.3389/978-2-88945-616-1 Language: English
Publisher: Frontiers Media SA
Subject: Science (General) --- Neurology
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The final volume in this tripartite series on Brain Augmentation is entitled “From Clinical Applications to Ethical Issues and Futuristic Ideas”. Many of the articles within this volume deal with translational efforts taking the results of experiments on laboratory animals and applying them to humans. In many cases, these interventions are intended to help people with disabilities in such a way so as to either restore or extend brain function. Traditionally, therapies in brain augmentation have included electrical and pharmacological techniques. In contrast, some of the techniques discussed in this volume add specificity by targeting select neural populations. This approach opens the door to where and how to promote the best interventions. Along the way, results have empowered the medical profession by expanding their understanding of brain function. Articles in this volume relate novel clinical solutions for a host of neurological and psychiatric conditions such as stroke, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, epilepsy, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, autism spectrum disorders (ASD), traumatic brain injury, and disorders of consciousness. In disease, symptoms and signs denote a departure from normal function. Brain augmentation has now been used to target both the core symptoms that provide specificity in the diagnosis of a disease, as well as other constitutional symptoms that may greatly handicap the individual. The volume provides a report on the use of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) in ASD with reported improvements of core deficits (i.e., executive functions). TMS in this regard departs from the present-day trend towards symptomatic treatment that leaves unaltered the root cause of the condition. In diseases, such as schizophrenia, brain augmentation approaches hold promise to avoid lengthy pharmacological interventions that are usually riddled with side effects or those with limiting returns as in the case of Parkinson’s disease. Brain stimulation can also be used to treat auditory verbal hallucination, visuospatial (hemispatial) neglect, and pain in patients suffering from multiple sclerosis. The brain acts as a telecommunication transceiver wherein different bandwidth of frequencies (brainwave oscillations) transmit information. Their baseline levels correlate with certain behavioral states. The proper integration of brain oscillations provides for the phenomenon of binding and central coherence. Brain augmentation may foster the normalization of brain oscillations in nervous system disorders. These techniques hold the promise of being applied remotely (under the supervision of medical personnel), thus overcoming the obstacle of travel in order to obtain healthcare. At present, traditional thinking would argue the possibility of synergism among different modalities of brain augmentation as a way of increasing their overall effectiveness and improving therapeutic selectivity. Thinking outside of the box would also provide for the implementation of brain-to-brain interfaces where techniques, proper to artificial intelligence, could allow us to surpass the limits of natural selection or enable communications between several individual brains sharing memories, or even a global brain capable of self-organization. Not all brains are created equal. Brain stimulation studies suggest large individual variability in response that may affect overall recovery/treatment, or modify desired effects of a given intervention. The subject’s age, gender, hormonal levels may affect an individual’s cortical excitability. In addition, this volume discusses the role of social interactions in the operations of augmenting technologies. Finally, augmenting methods could be applied to modulate consciousness, even though its neural mechanisms are poorly understood. Finally, this volume should be taken as a debate on social, moral and ethical issues on neurotechnologies. Brain enhancement may transform the individual into someone or something else. These techniques bypass the usual routes of accommodation to environmental exigencies that exalted our personal fortitude: learning, exercising, and diet. This will allow humans to preselect desired characteristics and realize consequent rewards without having to overcome adversity through more laborious means. The concern is that humans may be playing God, and the possibility of an expanding gap in social equity where brain enhancements may be selectively available to the wealthier individuals. These issues are discussed by a number of articles in this volume. Also discussed are the relationship between the diminishment and enhancement following the application of brain-augmenting technologies, the problem of “mind control” with BMI technologies, free will the duty to use cognitive enhancers in high-responsibility professions, determining the population of people in need of brain enhancement, informed public policy, cognitive biases, and the hype caused by the development of brain- augmenting approaches.

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