Thursday, May 13, 2010

Deep brain stimulation

I've been listening to this month's Neuropod podcast, recorded at the recent American Academy of Neurology annual meeting in Toronto, Canada. Presenter Kerri Smith interviews Dr Andres M Lozano, who uses deep brain stimulation (DBS) to treat symptoms of Parkinson's disease. This involves implanting an electrode in a damaged area of the brain to encourage it to reactivate, and works on the tremors and movement disorders of Parkinson's. He is now looking at using DBS for mood regulation, such as in cases of depression.

Towards the end of the interview, he talks about possible uses of DBS to treat early symptoms of Alzheimer's disease:
"The next frontier might be to see whether one can regulate memory or cognitive function in the brain; and as we get to have a better understanding of what are the circuits that control memory and cognitive function, we may be in a position to intervene within those circuits, and improve their function as well. On the basis of that thinking, we've started a pilot trial of DBS in treating patients with early Alzheimer's disease. The idea here is to place electrodes within the memory circuits and see whether one can activate the circuits and turn them back on."
He also suggests that this somewhat Frankensteinian technique could be used to spark neurogenesis.

Another story on this edition of Neuropod is about using fMRI imaging to map neural pathways in human brains. This produces amazing images of brains in vibrant coloured fibres: visit The Human Connectome Project to see some.


  1. I lost my mother to parkinsons and it is a difficult thief of a disease to witness. I wish mom could have lived long enough to try alternative approaches to re-routing the brain 's signals. Imagine and Live in Peace, Mary Helen Fernandez Stewart

  2. Mary Helen, I'm sorry for your loss of your mother. It's my fervent wish that research into treatments like DBS will eventually relieve such suffering (both hers and yours, in losing her). Thank you for sharing your experience with us.