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Deep brain stimulation therapy for depression

Deep brain stimulation therapy for depression

What deep brain stimulation can accomplish, has become apparent in the treatment of Parkinson patients. As soon as the electrode in the brain is switched on, all involuntary movements disappear immediately. According to some scientists, the same therapy applied to another part of the brain could be effective in people suffering from depression. Scientists of the Maastricht University Medical Centre (MUMC) presume to have found the right spot in the cortex. These findings were published in Translational Psychiatry.

By placing electrodes at several locations in the brains of rats with depression symptoms, the researchers determined which brain regions were sensitive to the treatment. This way, they discovered that the stimulation of the ventromedial prefrontal cortex led to significant changes in rat behaviour. The treated animals were less afraid, consumed more sucrose and showed a higher swimming activity when placed into water. These tests belong to the standard procedures for assessing the mood of laboratory animals.

The brain region identified by the scientists is involved in decision making and emotional responses. Previous studies have shown that stimulation of this part of the cortex also influences brain cells producing serotonin, which enhances our mood. Professor Yasin Temel, PhD, neurosurgeon at the MUCM, says: “For people with major symptoms of depression who do not benefit from alternative therapies, deep brain stimulation may form a helpful remedy in the future.”

Sources: MUCM and Translational Psychiatry

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