This week on SEED, I'm writing about Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS), a promising new way to treat clinical depression. Here's a snippet:
In DBS therapy, one or more electrodes the size of a spaghetti strand are precisely positioned in the patient's brain, then connected by wire around the skull and through the neck to a pacemaker-like device, a neurostimulator, just below the collarbone. The neurostimulator is activated and deactivated by a magnet that the patient carries, so if a tremor is beginning to become disruptive, DBS can be self-administered in an instant, with near-instantaneous results. A video provided by the manufacturer of a DBS device shows how it works in ideal cases.
Now new uses for the treatment are being tested. One observed side effect of DBS for Parkinson's is excessive happiness, to the point of uncontrollable elation--the sort of unhealthy, personality-changing reaction that everyone fears when they think of electrodes being implanted in their brain. Tuning the device can minimize this side effect, but its very existence suggests that DBS might be a useful therapy for clinical depression.
For more, read the whole article.
Also, in case you missed it, here are my picks for psychology and neuroscience from ResearchBlogging.org:
- Can you tell how strong someone is just by looking at their face? Michael Meadon looks at research suggesting that you can.
- What does your genome say about how likely you are to go into debt? Quite a lot, says the Neurocritic.
- Think you've finally got control over your weight? Now's about the time you'll probably start putting those pounds back on.
- How do you make a non-threatening area seem unsafe? Just put a closed-circuit surveillance camera there.
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On a somewhat related note, are you familiar with the work of Daryl Kipke at the University of Michigan? He does some cool work on improving implantable electrodes, and on electrodes that can simultaneously stimulate and record brain activity.
Thanks for the link Dave! IMMD :-)