Deep Brain Stimulation

  • IASbaba
  • October 7, 2021
  • 0
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Deep Brain Stimulation

Context: Physicians at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) have successfully treated a patient with severe depression by recognising and tapping into the brain circuits linked with depressive brain patterns. 

  • The physicians have tried to reset these patterns, which they have said is the equivalent of using a pacemaker for the heart.
  • The doctors used an existing technique called deep brain stimulation (DBS), customising it for this patient’s case.

What is deep brain stimulation (DBS)?

  • DBS is a surgical procedure in which electrodes are implanted into certain brain areas. 
  • These electrodes, or leads, generate electrical impulses that control abnormal brain activity.
  • The electrical impulses can also adjust for the chemical imbalances within the brain that cause various conditions

  • Traditional DBS has three components (refer above figure): 
    • The electrode, or lead. This is a thin, insulated wire inserted through a small opening in the skull and implanted into a specific brain area.
    • The extension wire. This too is insulated, and is passed under the skin of the head, neck and shoulder, connecting the electrode to the third component of the system.
    • The internal pulse generator (IPG) is the third component. It is usually implanted under the skin in the upper chest.

What diseases can be treated with DBS?

  • Conditions that are traditionally treated using DBS include dystonia, epilepsy, essential tumour, obsessive-compulsive disorder and Parkinson’s disease. 
  • In treating depression, however, previous clinical trials with DBS has shown limited success because most devices are only able to deliver constant electrical stimulation to one area of the brain.
  • During the latest research & treatment, scientists customised a new DBS device, which would stimulate the brain whenever it recognised the depressive pattern. 
  • Additionally, scientists had also found a neural biomarker that indicated the onset of symptoms. Using the customised DBS device, they were able to stimulate a different area of the brain, which in turn created immediate therapy for the brain.

Connecting the dots:

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