A HEADBAND TO TREAT DEPRESSION?
A South Korean biomedical start-up called Ybrain has developed a headband that they claim will offer relief from the symptoms of depression. The device, called Mindd, works using a technique called transcranial directcurrent stimulation (tDCS). Here, a lowvoltage electrical current is applied to specific areas in the brain via electrodes placed on the skull.
tDCS is not new – the basic principles have been understood since the early 19th Century. But the past decade or so has seen increased interest in its use in treating neurological and psychiatric conditions, and a 2016 meta-analysis of hundreds of studies concluded that it’s “possible or probably effective” as a treatment for depression.
tDCS equipment can stimulate particular brain regions either ‘anodally’ (increasing neuronal activity) or ‘cathodally’ (decreasing neuronal activity). The Mindd headset applies anodal stimulation via electrodes in the headband to the frontal lobe, an area where decreased activity is associated with depressive disorders. Mindd is not intended as a DIY solution: patients would use it in their own homes, and all data regarding treatment would be sent automatically to their doctor.
The headband is currently undergoing clinical trials at Harvard Medical School, and at 12 hospitals in South Korea. Early results are said to be promising, and if all goes well Ybrain hopes to market the device to health providers by 2019.