Work on the neuroethics of Deep–Brain Stimulators (DBS) featured on UW’s homepage

A close-up look at the circuit board designed by Jeff Herron.

An excerpt from UW Today:

Essential tremor, a nervous system disorder that causes a rhythmic shaking in the hands, affects an estimated 10 million Americans and millions more worldwide. Deep brain stimulation, essentially a pacemaker for the brain, has been approved to treat essential tremor. But there is not an existing system that automatically provides electrical stimulation only when needed.

Now, researchers from the University of Washington Department of Electrical Engineering, UW Department of Neurological Surgery and UW Department of Philosophy have teamed up with medical device manufacturer Medtronic to use the Activa® PC+S Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) system with people who have essential tremor. The system is not yet approved by the Food and Drug Administration for commercial use in the United States.


Timothy Brown, UW doctoral student in philosophy, is working with researchers on the neuroethics of DBS device design and use. Brown will help shape the research study by exploring how people who have voluntary control over DBS therapy might come to think of themselves (and their abilities) differently than people without that same control.