Best Life: Treating mental health conditions through brain stimulation

Published: Mar. 2, 2023 at 7:51 AM CST
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ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) - Deep brain stimulation, or DBS, is a type of therapy that delivers small pulses of electricity to the brain.

It’s been approved for use in movement disorders, but scientists are looking at the benefits of brain stimulation using DBS to improve memory, mental health, and dozens of other conditions.

With deep brain stimulation, surgeons implant a small wire in the brain.

A separate device directs small pulses of electricity into the affected areas. Patients with Parkinson’s and essential tremors can use a remote to control the strength of the signals.

Researchers are studying brain stimulation to treat mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, and OCD, as well as drug and alcohol addiction, obesity, and chronic pain.

“Immediately after stimulation, we see change in brain activity and we see improvement in symptoms,” said Flavio Frohlich, Ph.D., Dir., Carolina Center for Neurostimulation AT UNC School of Medicine.

Frohlich is the Director of the Carolina Center for Neurostimulation. He and colleagues use a technique called TACS, or Transcranial Alternating Current Stimulation, a weak, alternating pulse.

“The beauty of the type of stimulation that we’re studying is essentially we’re learning to speak the language of the brain. Meaning we can treat potentially different disease states by adjusting the stimulation to match the specific changes in those brains,” said Frohlich.

In a new study of seniors, researchers at Boston University say, participants who received low-dose electrical pulses through the scalp for four days, did better on memory tests, and those benefits lasted at least a month.

The Boston researchers say the results of their study are early but could have significant implications for treating patients with memory and cognition problems.

Currently, there are more than 384 clinical trials of brain stimulation listed on the government trial website covering more than two dozen conditions.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Producer; Roque Correa, Editor.

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