Woman’s Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Successfully Treated by Unique Brain Implant


The brain of 34-year-old Amber Pearson contains a one-of-a-kind implant. The Oregon resident is the first person to have a deep brain stimulation device that manages both her epileptic seizures and her obsessive compulsive disorder symptoms. Her subsequent improvement has inspired scientists to conduct larger studies of the technology.

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Pearson’s story was first detailed in a case report published last October in the journal Neuron, along with an accompanying article from Oregon Health & Science University, one of the institutions involved in her care.

Pearson began to see OHSU doctors for her epilepsy in 2016. But even after she received a surgery in 2018 that removed a small amount of brain tissue often tied to seizure activity, her epilepsy continued to plague her. She then agreed to undergo responsive neurostimulation (RNS), a form of deep brain stimulation where a specialized device is placed inside the brain. This device acts much like a pacemaker, first detecting bouts of erratic brain activity associated with neurological conditions like epilepsy, then sending a counteracting pulse of electrical stimulation to the brain.

Pearson then had a remarkable idea of her own, based on her research looking into the technology. Since the doctors were already going to use the device to control her epilepsy, could they also customize it to control her OCD at the same time? Deep brain stimulation is regularly used to treat epilepsy and has shown some promise as an option for treatment-resistant OCD. But prior to Pearson, no RBS device has ever been rigged to treat both at once. Her doctors agreed to the idea and tried to figure out how to do it.

The subsequent work involved the coordination of researchers from OHSU, UCLA, Stanford University, and the University of Pennsylvania. First, they monitored Pearson’s brain while she was exposed to OCD triggers, in order to figure out the exact pattern of erratic brain activity that the device was supposed to respond to. Then, the device was tweaked to separately react to both her epilepsy and OCD.

Pearson underwent the procedure in March 2019, and it appears to have been a clear success so far. And while her seizures are now better managed, the implant has more significantly relieved her suffering from OCD.

“Epilepsy brings limitations to my life, but OCD controlled it,” Pearson said in a statement from OHSU in October. “Before I started treatment with my RNS, I would wash my hands until they would bleed… My hands would be so dry that bending my fingers would crack the skin of my knuckles.”

University of Pennsylvania researchers are now working on a study to see if this technology can be expanded more widely to others with OCD (an estimated 2.5 million Americans are living with OCD, while around 40% to 60% are thought to not respond well to current treatments). And though Pearson’s OCD and seizures have not fully faded, her daily life has greatly improved.

“I’m happy again and excited to go out and live and be with my friends and my family,” she told the AFP this month.

via Gizmodo https://gizmodo.com

February 5, 2024 at 11:54AM

Deepfake Video Call Scams Finance Bro Out of $25 Million


A finance worker in Hong Kong hopped on a video call with, what appeared to be, multiple coworkers and his company’s Chief Financial Officer. Everyone looked and sounded real, but it turns out everyone on the call was a deepfake. The employee was scammed into paying out over $25 million to unknown fraudsters, according to CNN on Sunday.

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“(In the) multi-person video conference, it turns out that everyone [he saw] was fake,” Hong Kong Police official Baron Chan Shun-ching told media outlets on Friday.

Hong Kong’s police department did not publicly identify the company or the worker in this case, but it’s one of the largest financial scams with deepfake technology to date.

The employee received several emails from his company’s CFO requesting him to wire transfer the $25.6 million. He worried that this was a phishing scam, but after the video call, was convinced the request was legitimate.

Law enforcement said the employee recognized several people on the call, who all looked and sounded like his colleagues. He only found out it was a scam when he checked in with the corporation’s head office later that week, according to CNN.

The meeting’s participants were digitally recreated using publicly available footage of the individuals, according to the South China Morning Post. Multiple employees were allegedly targeted at this company.

The Hong Kong police department noted this was one of many recent cases involving deepfake technology scams. The department said they’ve made six arrests in connection to these frauds. A senior inspector for Hong Kong’s police department recommended several ways to check whether a person is real. These include asking someone to move their head or asking questions to determine their authenticity. These awkward tactics, which would be especially uncomfortable asking your boss to do so, may become necessary in the era of deepfakes.

Deepfake technology has wreaked havoc in recent weeks, as AI technology has become so convincing that it’s hard to tell what’s real and what’s not. AI-generated, pornographic images of Taylor Swift went viral in January, while a deepfake President Biden told New Hampshire voters not to vote.

via Gizmodo https://gizmodo.com

February 5, 2024 at 03:12PM

The Morning After: The FCC wants to make AI-voiced robocalls illegal


AI-generated voices mimicking celebrities and politicians are making it harder for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to fight robocalls. FCC chair Jessica Rosenworcel wants the commission to recognize calls that use AI-generated voices as artificial, making the use of voice cloning technologies in robocalls illegal.

Under the FCC’s Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), artificial voice or recording calls to residences are against the law. If AI-generated voice calls are recognized as illegal under the existing law, it’ll give state attorneys general offices nationwide “new tools” to crack down on scammers.

The FCC’s proposal comes shortly after some New Hampshire residents received a call impersonating President Joe Biden, telling them not to vote in their state’s primary. A security firm performed a thorough analysis of the call and determined it was created using AI tools by a startup called ElevenLabs. The company subsequently banned the account responsible for the message.

— Mat Smith

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This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://ift.tt/SLOQisq

via Engadget http://www.engadget.com

February 2, 2024 at 06:27AM