The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) announced plans for a research program to develop a small chip implanted in the skull to treat psychiatric disorders (eg, anxiety, PTSD, major depression).
The project, Systems-Based Neurotechnology for Emerging Therapies (SUBNETS), will commence with teams led by UC San Francisco (UCSF), and Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). The goal of the SUBNETS program is to reduce the severity of neuropsychological illness in veterans and service members by developing closed-loop therapies that incorporate recording and analysis of brain activity with near-real-time neural stimulation.
SUBNETS will utilize novel technology and next-generation devices inspired by current deep brain stimulation (DBS) technology. The research is based is based on the understanding that brain function and dysfunction plays out across distributed neural systems as instead of specific anatomical regions of the brain. In addition, researchers believe that the brain can be trained or restored to normal functionality following injury or the onset of neuropsychological illness due to the brain’s feature called “neural plasticity.”
The team’s approach is to develop a device that focuses on affected brain regions in an individual’s psychiatric or neurological disease. The device will use direct recording, stimulation, and therapeutic approaches to encourage neural plasticity, with the goal of rehabilitating the circuits that appear to be driving pathology. The device could eventually be removed if the approach were to be successful.
Scientists anticipate research to be conducted over the next 5 years with various demonstrations and device submissions for approval by the FDA.
For more information call (703) 526-6630 or visit DARPA.mil.