Mind-Altering Drugs Administered Deep Into The Brain

Duke University researchers have worked with mice, stress-susceptible animals that appeared depressed or anxious. By inserting drugs deep within the brain, the mice were restored to relatively normal behavior, according to a study appearing in the forthcoming July 20 issue of Neuron.

The team started by precisely placing arrays of 32 electrodes in four brain areas of the mice (see illustration above). Then they recorded brain activity as these mice were subjected to a stressful situation called chronic social defeat.* This allowed the researchers to observe the activity between the prefrontal cortex and three areas of the limbic system that are implicated in major depression...

They then applied engineered molecules called DREADD (Designer Receptors Exclusively Activated by Designer Drug), developed by University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill pharmacologist Bryan Roth, in very tiny amounts (0.5 microliter). A drug that attaches only to that DREADD is then administered to give the researchers control over the circuit.

They found that direct stimulation of PFC-amygdala neural circuitry with DREADDs normalized PFC-dependent limbic synchrony in stress-susceptible animals and restored normal behavior.

In his 2015 novel Killing Titan, Greg Bear writes about cranial amplified programming devices and suits that can settle mood-altering chemicals deep into the brain and the body.

Hey, I'm in a good mood. I'm laughing in my big thick helm, even as painful and intrusive bits of the suit - my suit, my friend! - absorb my sweet flesh the way product eats the station. I'm down with that. I'm down with pain, poison and frozen death. Happy to serve!"

Via KurzweilAI.

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