It starts at In early October 2017, 108 stroke patients with severe arm and hand disabilities participated in a special clinical trial.Researchers will surgically implant neurostimulators into their Vagus nerve, The cranial nerves that run along the groove in the front of the neck are responsible for transmitting signals from the brain to other parts of the body. By the end of the experiment, the subject’s once restricted limbs began to come back to life. Somehow, the pulse of this nerve combined with rehabilitation therapy improves the patient’s use of the disabled limb-and is faster and more effective than any previous treatment, even for those who do not respond to anything else.
This spring, the results of the test were published exist LancetThe reversal of paralysis is an amazing feat in itself. But what is embedded in the article is more radical.no what The patient learned, but how They learned that by stimulating the vagus nerve, they compressed years of physical therapy to months. The test is intended as a way to repair injuries and restore movement control. But what if there is no damage in the first place? In the hands of healthy and healthy people, this technology can significantly improve physical performance-the question is whether humans are ready to contend with it.
The potential applications of this technology are not hard to imagine. It can be seen from the experiment that when the vagus nerve receives additional stimulation, it causes the brain to release neuromodulators, thereby regulating the body’s response. They come online when the patient tries a new task and strengthen the motor circuit involved. “When you practice golf or anything else, the situation is the same,” explains Charles Liu, the lead neurosurgeon of the study and director of the Center for Neurorehabilitation at the University of Southern California. “Teaching stroke patients to use a fork is not much different from teaching elite athletes to hit the ball better.” It’s just repetitive movements and the development and strengthening of brain motor circuits. If this process can be accelerated, then we have learned how to optimize the brain-and how to enhance human capabilities. At present, biotechnological methods such as stem cells have shown the promise of repairing damaged nerves, and the brain-computer interface aims to replace lost functions by bypassing the damage and directly connecting the brain to the muscles.But this stroke study shows that neuromodulation plus specific task exercises can enhance Herb Learning-Or activity-dependent synaptic plasticity, all your muscles fire in order. Generally speaking, to acquire a skill, the neurons of the brain need to be fired in the right way at the right time; practice is a normal course for humans, but now, stimulation allows us to do it faster and better.
It is only a matter of time before neuromodulation comes to market. Once it is scalable and affordable, it is likely to have broad appeal to the public who are already interested in optimizing the human body, especially athletes. But in sports, enhancement is accompanied by rules, and even in addition to the usual doping controversy, there has been considerable ambiguity and controversy in professional games in this regard. For example, the first transgender woman to participate in the Olympics, Laurel Hubbard, Only if her total testosterone level (in serum) is less than 10 nanomoles per liter and at least 12 months is eligible to participate in the Tokyo Olympics.But the same rules Two-time Olympic gold medalist Caster Semenya is disqualified South Africa, because although she has XY chromosomes, her testosterone levels are also high.
Nerve stimulation is expected to further complicate this. Unlike steroids or hormones, there is no obvious way to monitor it. In a healthy person with fully utilized limbs, it may not be possible to track whether or how long ago the stimulation of the vagus nerve occurred. If the athlete has implanted neurotransmitters, this may be suggestive, but not conclusive. After all, the body is releasing its own neuromodulators; apart from the electrical stimulation itself, nothing is foreign to the body. Even if the Olympic Committee announces their regulatory requirements for testosterone levels, measuring brain stimulation requires athletes or stimulation providers to record usage, or to perform some form of internal inspection of implanted devices. However, the requirement to monitor the athlete’s brain is an infringement of one of the last traces of private space; any form of supervision needs to be accompanied by guidelines to prevent abuse. These monitoring and law enforcement mechanisms must be resolved as soon as possible before technology surpasses our ethics.