While you’re still thinking hard about just how much your unconscious brain is more in control of you than ‘you’ are, chew on this too: scientists at Israel’s Tel Aviv University are crafting a tiny implantable chip that delivers precise electrical impulses to different parts of the brain. This may be, they believe, the cure for not just depression, but Parkinson’s disease – both of which respond well to conventional electro-therapies—and maybe even brain damage from strokes or injuries.
Which is a potential breakthrough and amazing but, from where I sit, the part to chew on is the sort of almost literal rewiring or reconfiguring of consciousness. Like, the brain functions as a tangled mess of electrical impulses. It’s just pathways of electricity. So: What else can we do? How precise can we get? Or am I just being freaked and paranoid about the idea of people running around with behavior-modifying chips in their skulls?
The heart kind of pacemaker is purely mechanics; the ReNaChip—as it’s being called—deals with consciousness. That thing we know really nothing about. We don’t even really understand all that well how ECT therapy works in its traditional, seizure-inducing form.
It all feels like when you’re a kid and you take a radio apart or something and it’s not working anymore, but after jamming some stuff around in it, a warble comes out. You have no reason why, but you take it as a discovery and just keeping poking it and making that warble again, imagining you fixed something. Then again, you could argue that that describes a lot of medicine.
. Image: Wikimedia.