The construction of viable artificial brain models has encountered a litany of issues, including, but not limited to, energy expenditure, and an intractable disparity between the capabilities of the biological brain and man-made facsimiles. The sheer efficiency of the human brain stands in stark contrast to that of artificial models intended to replicate it. The analytical and computational capacity of these systems also remain far removed from the biological benchmark.
Existing conceptual schemas of the brain have not adequately resolve this paradox. A fresh approach seems critical, should we establish an adequate understanding the brain such that we comprehend the underlying basis of its working mechanisms, and may develop synthetic representations of intelligence.
Once such a framework is adequately conceived and created, applications developed atop will support exciting new interventions for disruptive and debilitating brain-related disorders.
One of the major challenges in the study of brain function and the treatment of brain dysfunction such as depression, attention-deficit-hyperactivity and post-traumatic stress is to find ways to manipulate the brain. These manipulations should be non-invasive, anatomically selective and functionally targeted.
Manipulation methods available today include pharmacological interventions, surgical ablation, transcranial electric and magnetic stimulation, and optogenetic techniques, none of which fulfill the criteria for an ideal manipulation device outlined above.
Any non-invasive intervention modality beyond pharmacological treatment requires the transfer of energy across the cranium and to the target brain structures.
- Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS): TMS has been used to transfer energy but its poor spatial resolution and penetration power limit its potential.
- Gamma Knife Radiosurgery: The use of ionizing radiation, such as gamma knife radiosurgery, offers better spatial resolution and tissue penetration but significant concerns about adverse effects to tissue outside the treatment zones remain.
- Ultrasound: Ultrasound is another modality used for non-invasive energy-transfer. It has been used since the 1950s in the therapy of conditions ranging from kidney stones to physical therapy. But until the mid-2000s it was not possible to sufficiently focus the ultrasound beam through the cranium. However, recent advances in the development of transcranial focusing methods combined with closed-loop imaging make it now possible to deliver energy through the cranium and to defined structures in the brain using focused ultrasound.
The Brain Sciences Foundation intends to fund projects into the use of focused ultrasound for:
- non-invasive neurosurgery (high intensity/frequency ultrasound)
- neuromodulation (low intensity/frequency ultrasound)