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Electrical stimulation of the brain a breakthrough in treating depression / panic

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Monday, 08 December 2008

electrical_stimulation.jpgPHILADELPHIA – In the late 1700s, Italian anatomist Luigi Galvani made a dead frog's muscles twitch when struck by a spark, a discovery that paved the way for the modern understanding of electricity's role in living things. It is the basis for countless medical technologies like the pacemaker.

But electricity does not travel easily through the skull to the brain, the organ responsible for every purposeful twitch and altered mood. So when a group of British scientists in 1985 used magnetic pulses from outside the head to induce an electrical field inside the brain – and got a subject's hands to move – their colleagues clamored for a chance to zap themselves.

 

That breakthrough, known as transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), led to the Food and Drug Administration's approval last month of the first noninvasive, non-pharmacological treatment for depression.

As a practical matter, approval of the device made by Neuronetics Inc., a five-year-old Malvern, Pa., company, is intended for patients with major treatment-resistant depression who do not respond to any one medication. Millions of Americans fail to benefit from antidepressants, and millions more quit because of side effects.

Symbolically, the federal action is a big deal – another advance in a group of emerging fields that involve electrical stimulation of the brain.

"Our view of the brain is changing," said Mark S. George, a professor of psychiatry, radiology and neuroscience at the Medical University of South Carolina.

Just 10 or 15 years ago, scientists thought of the brain as a single entity – what he called "the brain-as-soup" model. "But really you want to treat specific regions in the brain."

George is editor in chief of a year-old journal named Brain Stimulation, and he is a champion for the cause. After decades of success with psychiatric drugs, he said, "we had forgotten that the brain is really an electrical organ."

Researchers worldwide are testing therapies ranging from highly invasive electrical implants to hardly noticeable magnetic fields on dozens of psychiatric and neurological disorders. Success has been limited – but so are current treatment options.

 Read Full article: http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/healthscience/stories/120808dnnatdepression.c996d3.html

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substance said:

3005
...
so is this like shock therapy???cause thats not cool
 
December 11, 2008
Votes: +1

Reckals said:

3398
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It is shock therapy, but instead of the old days where you just got a massive shock, now it's smaller impulse shocks sent to specific areas of the brain. Specific areas where it is thought the shock can help treat a mental condition.

It's really cool considering your kids might one day be able to be cured by a simple, non-painful visit to the shock doc...but this early in the research, it's also a big risk.
 
December 12, 2008
Votes: +1

Reckals said:

3398
...
Here's another one revolving around studies of a drug called Modafinil. This drug reportedly quiets down other brain cells, while improving focus.

http://www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/newsroom/newsdetail.html?key=1807&svr=http://www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu&table=published

Oh, this study also implements a method that focuses on the brain activity, rather then how a person reacts. I think this method of study is a bit more accurate, since it can break down exactly what parts of the brain the drug is affecting, rather then just seeing the subject react differently. This is so far over my head I love it!
 
December 12, 2008
Votes: +1

substance said:

3005
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its non painful? how can being electrocuted be non painful?
 
December 14, 2008
Votes: +1

Reckals said:

3398
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Aha, it's not electrocution. It's tiny little shocks...consider it the same as when you have eye twitches. Annoying as they are, they aren't painful and it's the same reaction you get with the impulses to the brain.
 
December 15, 2008
Votes: +1

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5706
...
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July 11, 2010 | url
Votes: -1

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July 11, 2010
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