Brain pacemakers may be the new medicine in treating psychiatric illness

brain pacemaker

Brain pacemaker of the future? Image via Julich Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine.

Earlier this week the Associate Press published an article on new research that is attempting to use pacemakers in the brain to control psychiatric diseases. You can read that story here.

Deep brain stimulation (DBS) has proved to be a successful and powerful method of blocking the tremors of Parkinson’s disease. However, blocking mental illness isn’t quite so easy, the main problem being where exactly in all that gray matter of the brain should scientists put the brain pacemaker?

But scientists are pushing to expand research into how well these brain stimulators are able to tackle the most severe cases of depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and Tourettes’s Syndrome.

Unlike tremor patients, who may see immediate relief of their symptoms, psychiatric patients who respond to DBS tend to improve gradually. Doctors are also cautioning that just because symptoms may lessen with DBS, it doesn’t mean that they could or should abandon traditional forms of therapy. Furthermore, patients who undergo DBS as a method of treatment also require help learning how to function, much the same as hip replacement patients who undergo physical therapy.

If you would like to know more about the surgical process of DBS and the use of a brain pacemaker to control symptoms of psychiatric disability, continue reading this article which gives a very nice overview of all of that. The article also explains the difference between what DBS does for patients with Parkinson’s versus what is expected in its application of treating psychiatric illness.

What scientists have been able to deduce through research is that with the brain pacemaker, somehow behavior therapy begins working, perhaps enabling the brain to better remember lessons.

Continue reading here.

Neergaard, Lauran. “Trying Brain Pacemakers to Zap Psychiatric Disease.” Yahoo! News. Associated Press, 21 Feb. 2011. Web. 22 Feb. 2011.

1 comment so far

  1. schorrmore on

    Exciting potential!

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