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Brain Stimulation & Mental Health with Alik Widge

September 13, 2023

Who this is for:

Science Communicators

With over 85 billion neurons and 150 trillion neural connections, our brains are complex systems, so it’s no wonder that many of us experience mental health issues at some point in our lives. While talk therapy and medications are commonly used as treatments, a growing body of research is showing that new technological interventions can help, too—sometimes in cases where nothing else has worked.

  • What happens in the brains/brain networks of people with mental health issues?
  • What types of mental health disorders might benefit from brain stimulation treatments?
  • What types of brain stimulation treatments might be available in the future, and how would they target the unique symptoms of different disorders and differences in individuals?
  • How can we control our thoughts—instead of our thoughts controlling us?
  • What ethical questions are raised by this research?

Alik Widge is a psychiatrist, biomedical engineer, and neuroscientist at the University of Minnesota. In the clinic, he treats patients for a variety of conditions, including anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, substance addictions, and post-traumatic stress disorder. In his lab, he focuses on the development of closed loop neuro-devices that sense the brain and respond in real time to regulate the brain circuits involved in mental illness. Current technologies being developed include methods for restoring healthy function in brain circuits controlling decision-making, self-regulation, and mental flexibility. The author of over 100 scientific articles, Dr. Widge and his research have been featured on NPR and in Futurism, Science News, Quartz, Gizmodo, and Nature.

This Dana Foundation Neuroscience & Society Talk is part of the Dana Education program, which includes the coordination of Brain Awareness Week in mid-March. The Dana Foundation is dedicated to advancing neuroscience and society by supporting cross-disciplinary intersections such as neuroscience and ethics, law, policy, humanities, and arts.

The Secret Science Club is a science lecture, arts, and performance series, curated by Dorian Devins and Margaret Mittelbach.


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