The iPlant is a hypothetical deep brain stimulation device first proposed in a 2008 short story entitled “Program Yourself”[1]. It is conceived of as modulating electrical activity in the ventral tegmental area (VTA), substantia nigra pars compacta and the dorsal and medial raphe nuclei, thereby allowing regulation of the release of dopamine and serotonin in the human brain. In rats, similar implants support brain stimulation reward (BSR), which has been used to motivate physical exercise[2][3] and learning[4][5]. In humans, it is argued, similar BSR protocols could benefit persons suffering from obesity or learning difficulties.

Other applications of the iPlant, currently not tested in animal models, include electrical regulation of dopamine and serotonin tone in the brain, with the aim of offering a more dynamic alternative to pharmacological treatments of cognitive disorders associated with dopamine or serotonin dysfunction. Currently, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder is treated with stimulants such as Ritalin, which enhance dopamine signaling, and depression with SSRIs, which enhance serotonin signaling.

Independently, the idea of a brain implant called iPlant has been explored by in form of an artistic website called "iPlant + iSoul"[6], as part of the Huffington Post Contagious Festival[7].


  1. Harris CA (2008) Program Yourself. Institute of Ethics and Emerging Technologies website.
  2. Burgess ML, Davis JM, Borg TK, Buggy J (Oct 1991). "Intracranial self-stimulation motivates treadmill running in rats". J Appl Physiol. 71 (4): 1593–7. PMID 1757387, 
  3. Garner RP, Terracio L, Borg TK, Buggy J (Oct 1991). "Intracranial self-stimulation motivates weight-lifting exercise in rats". J Appl Physiol. 71 (4): 1627–31. PMID 1757392, 
  4. Hermer-Vazquez L, Hermer-Vazquez R, Rybinnik I, et al (Apr 2005). "Rapid learning and flexible memory in "habit" tasks in rats trained with brain stimulation reward". Physiol Behav. 84 (5): 753–9. doi:10.1016/j.physbeh.2005.03.007. PMID 15885252. 
  5. Talwar SK, Xu S, Hawley ES, Weiss SA, Moxon KA, Chapin JK (May 2002). "Rat navigation guided by remote control". Nature 417 (6884): 37–8. doi:10.1038/417037a. PMID 11986657. ]
  6. iPlant + iSoul
  7. The Huffington Post Contagious Festival