Scientists try to carry out the deep brain stimulation surgery for severe depression

Helen Mayberg neuroscientists are monitoring neurosurgery doctor for a major depression patients to carry out the deep brain stimulation surgery . image: emory university

before high school principal Linda Patterson has and depression struggle for 40 years, tried a series of treatment, but not too much. One night, she saw CNN (CNN) reported the emory university in Atlanta, Helen Mayberg laboratory to carry out the deep brain stimulation (DBS) surgery clinical trials to treat severe depression. The next day, she decided to try.

up to four hours of surgery, including two nickels in a skull the size of the hole, and deep in the brain known as 25 regional small nodules) in the long metal electrodes. Once the electrode is in the right place, external generator operation team will push switch, high frequency pulse power will begin to stimulate the brain tissue. Battery was preparetions below the clavicle, like a pacemaker to provide continuous electrical stimulation.

to keep half awake during surgery patients, therefore, when the current is Mayberg team can detect the patient's mental and emotional state. Patterson recalled this kind of feeling as if she was from a deep-sea vortex escape back to the ground. After surgery, "I think I'm back to the best in my life, happy, happy and satisfied." Patterson said, "I could improve the cognitive ability. I opened a new chapter of life." After more than six months, Patterson didn't showed signs of recurrence.


for patients with depression, Mayberg try DBS for the first time was 10 years ago. She and the other team aiming at different areas of the brain, one after another using DBS treated more than 200 patients with depression. "40% to 60% of patients had improved significantly." Mayberg said.

this experimental therapy to those patients who have given up hope of a new life, "revive" the depression treatment area, the national institute of mental health mood and anxiety disorders program former director, yeung sum pharmaceutical, head of neuroscience treatment Husseini Manji said. It gives researchers a powerful weapon to research an ancient but largely untested hypothesis: most of the depression is not originated from neurological effects of chemical imbalance, but due to the damaged nerve "circuit".

at mount sinai hospital in New York, a neuroscientist at Scott Russo said, to the right way to test hypothesis about neuronal circuits until recently has been found. This means the exact change the key circuits of the brain activity is feasible, and can keep the other circuits state of complete unscathed. In just the past five years, Russo said, the genetics of new technologies, such as light has allowed scientists began tracking and control neural network in animal models of depression. "To carry out such research, this is a great opportunity." Yale university school of medicine, psychiatrists Ronald Duman says.

Mayberg, warned that although Patterson's rehabilitation is a very successful case, but not all the depression treated with DBS can get such immediate or persistent curative effect. Mayberg and other team is currently in 25 area and other area of the brain are DBS clinical trials. In order to eliminate the placebo effect, the researchers compared the DBS patients and those who experienced the same surgery but didn't accept electrical stimulation of the patients. Academic circles all eyes were all staring at these studies, yeung sum pharmaceutical neuroscientists Wayne Drevets said: "a lot of people waiting to see, this kind of therapy is really effective."

circuits research

with current control circuits, in turn, affect mood concept is not new, Washington university in st. Louis nerve anatomist Joseph Price points. In the 17th century, physicians began to use electric shock therapy hysteria, 19th century neuroscientist Paul Broca found that stimulating specific areas of the brain can cause the monkey peculiar emotional behavior, making them become quite submissive or excessive sexual desire.

recently, depression, the researchers returned to the idea. One of the motive is to restore "imbalances" brain chemistry condition of the available drugs encountered more and more frustrated. Although such as fluoxetine drugs can increase the levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin, seems to help some patients, but it does not apply to all patients, and has side effects.