Deep brain stimulation is a neurosurgical procedure that has been shown to be an effective form of treatment for several disorders, including Parkinson’s disease. A new study found that deep brain stimulation may also be helpful when it comes to treating Alzheimer’s disease and related forms of dementia
Learn more about the treatment method and the groundbreaking new study on brain stimulation.
Deep Brain Stimulation: An Overview
Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a neurosurgical procedure where electrodes are implanted in certain parts of the brain. These electrodes send electrical impulses to specific parts of the brain to change brain activity. The impulses can regulate abnormal impulses or affect certain cells and chemicals in the brain.
Controlled by a pacemaker-like device under the skin, DBS has been beneficial for a number of disorders including Parkinson’s disease, essential tremor, chronic pain, major depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
It is important to note that there are potential serious neuropsychiatric side-effects from deep brain stimulation, which range from apathy to hallucinations and compulsive gambling to hyper-sexuality and depression. These side effects are usually temporary and potentially reversible. Electrodes may also become displaced during surgery causing personality changes, but this can also be fixed and identified through a CT scan.
Using Deep Brain Stimulation to Create New Brain Cells
The study, conducted at the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, implanted DBS electrodes in rats. The electrodes were programmed to target the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, which is a part of the brain responsible for a higher level of cognitive function. Researchers noticed a significant improvement in the ability of the rats to perform memory tasks after constant stimulation of the ventromedial prefrontal cortex. They also saw new neurons being formed in the brain, compared to the control group.
This groundbreaking result means that new brain cells can be created through DPS, which can improve memory retention. The increase in neurons may also reduce anxiety and depression, commonly felt by people living with varying forms of dementia.
Ajai Vyas, Assistant Professor at NTU’s School of Biological Sciences said:
“The findings from the research clearly show the potential of enhancing the growth of brain cells using deep brain stimulation. Around 60% of patients do not respond to regular anti-depressant treatments and our research opens new doors for more effective treatment options.”
Dr Lim Lee Wei, associate professor at Sunway University Mayalsia and researcher added to the enthusiasm of his colleague stating:
“Memory loss in older people is not only a serious and widespread problem, but signifies a key symptom of dementia. At least one in 10 people aged 60 and above in Singapore suffer from dementia and this breakthrough could pave the way towards improved treatments for patients.”
Did you know that deep brain stimulation could be used to treat dementia? What are your thoughts on it as a treatment for memory loss? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.
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