SCIENCE & TECH
- GS-3: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology.
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: