Brain Zapping May Help Patients Suffering from Depression: Study

Electrical stimulation in a part of the brain can lead to mood-upliftment in patients suffering from depression. 

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Deep brain stimulation is an emerging treatment for refractory mood disorders.
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Electrical stimulation in a particular part of the brain can lead to upliftment in moods of patients suffering from depression and epilepsy, a study has found.

Mood disorders cause significant morbidity and mortality, and existing therapies fail 20%–30% of patients, according to the research, that studied the effects of stimulation in orbitofrontal cortex , a key hub for mood-related circuity.

The Study

The researchers studied 25 subjects with epilepsy and varied depression traits ranging from mild to severe, through a validated questionnaire. Each individual was implanted with intracranial electrodes for seizure localization, which was then used to stimulate OFC and other brain regions while collecting verbal mood reports and questionnaire scores.

It was revealed that stimulation suppressed low-frequency power in OFC, mirroring neurophysiological features that were associated with positive mood states during natural mood fluctuation. Behavioral responses to stimulation did not include hypomania and indicated an acute restoration to non-depressed mood state.

Together, these findings indicate that lateral OFC stimulation broadly modulates mood-related circuitry to improve mood state in depressed patients, revealing lateral OFC as a promising new target for therapeutic brain stimulation in mood disorders.

As reported in the Business Standard, co-author Vikram Rao from University of California, San Francisco, explained that stimulation induced a pattern of activity in brain regions that was similar to patterns experienced with positive mood states.

Deep brain stimulation is an emerging treatment for refractory mood disorders, but its success depends critically on target selection.

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