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Implantable brain technology is revitalising but comes with side effects

Dr Frederic Gilbert is a philosopher and ethicist in the School of Humanities at the University of Tasmania. He has been studying the positive and negative effects of implantable brain technologies, which are used to treat conditions including Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer's, as well as some mental illnesses.

“It’s now possible to implant a device in the brain of someone with a specific neurological disease,” Gilbert said. “These devices target a particular area of the brain that is believed to be responsible for the disease. Most patients love the results, however, a significant number have seen their lives fall apart.”

Although the technology has produced tremendous results revitalising people affected by Parkinson's disease, some of the side effects include depression, listlessness and a feeling that one has lost their identity.

“Patients who have no history of clinical depression now experience it, or might have divorced or stopped working, and in the worst cases attempted suicide," Gilbert reported. “To have this type of technology is great, but there are a number of patients who don’t cope well in regards to their sense of self.”

Gilbert is about to decamp to Seattle, where he will be studying further into this topic for one year at the University of Washington. Nursing Review spoke with him over the phone to find out more.

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