December 22, 2008

British researcher works on ‘sex chip’

An electronic sex chip that can be implanted in the brain to simulate pleasure is being developed in Britain, researchers report.

The chip works by emitting tiny shocks from the implanted electrodes, a technology used in the United States to treat Parkinson's disease, The Daily Telegraph reported Monday.

Research conducted by Morten Kringelbach, senior fellow with Oxford University's Psychiatry Department, found the orbitofrontal cortex -- the area associated with feelings of pleasure derived from sex and eating -- could be a new stimulation target for people suffering from anhedonia, an inability to experience pleasure from such activities.

There is evidence that this chip will work, neurosurgery professor Tipu Aziz said of the research. A few years ago a scientist implanted such a device into the brain of a woman with a low sex drive and turned her into a very sexually active woman. She didn't like the sudden change, so the wiring in her head was removed.

Aziz said current technology, which requires surgery to link a wire from a heart pacemaker to the brain can cause bleeding, is intrusive and crude, the British newspaper reported. Once technology improves, he said deep brain stimulation could be used in many areas that would be more subtle and controlled.

Kringelbach's findings were published Nature Reviews Neuroscience.