Can we harness the brain’s plasticity to improve mental health?
Currently, neuropsychiatric treatment is dominated by pharmacology, which has many limitations. Our goal is to develop neuroprosthetics that induce neuroplasticity to rewire the brain after an insult, bypass a traumatic lesion, and unlearn maladaptive conditions. Such devices could revolutionize the domains of neurology and neuropsychiatry in the same way the pacemaker revolutionized cardiology decades ago.
Characterization and manipulation of emotional state and decision making variables in mesolimbic and mesocortico networks
We have recently shown that deep brain stimulation can bias decision-making. Electrical microstimulation is known to induce neural plasticity. When presented with one of two choices, coincident electrical microstimulation of the caudate nucleus increased the value of that choice and the likelihood that it would be selected. The caudate nucleus is part of the striatum and has connections with the cortex and thalamus that are known to be important for goal-directed action and mood. These results support potential future applications of microstimulation to correct maladaptive plasticity underlying dysfunctional decision-making related to neuropsychiatric conditions.