Experimental research is already using neurotechnologies and other delivery systems to modulate memory and other cognitive functions. As with brain monitoring, these fall into broad categories of invasive and non-invasive. Non-invasive technologies to modulate brain signals are transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS).8 tDCS has been shown to enhance certain cognitive functions, such as episodic memory in older adults.9 Non-invasive technologies and focused ultrasound (FUS) could make it possible to remove unwanted memories. Invasive techniques for neuromodulation include optogenetics10 and deep brain stimulation11, which has been successful for Parkinson’s and is now in trials to rescue memory in Alzheimer’s disease. A third category blurs the line between invasive and non-invasive, and includes drugs and nanobot drug delivery systems to carry chemicals across the blood brain barrier.
Progress in this area rests on the development of closed-loop devices, which can read and decode brain signals, and respond by making decisions – often aided by AI — and then also engage stimulation in specific brain regions in order to override, dampen or amplify a faulty signal. The first commercial applications will likely be invasive devices that treat epilepsy and Parkinson’s, but closed-loop neuromodulation will eventually encompass invasive and non-invasive technologies.