With deep brain stimulation (DBS), electrical impulses affect the patterns of brain activity. This is not a new invention. It has already been used to treat the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, some types of epilepsy. To conduct HSGM, electrodes are inserted into the brain, pulses to which are sent by a device, usually implanted under the skin (such as a pacemaker for the heart).
The effectiveness of HSGM for the treatment of depression has been studied for several years. However, to date, the success of such an experimental treatment has been questionable, research data have remained controversial. Patient responses to this treatment varied significantly. In 2018, scientists at the University of California, San Francisco found that changing the location of the electrodes in the brain may help improve the effect of treatment. They proposed their own method of using GSGM, which they called personalized neurostimulation.
In a new study, the same group of scientists presented new data on the effectiveness of their method. They managed to alleviate the condition of a 36-year-old woman who had suffered from depression since childhood.
“When I first received the stimulation, I had a ‘flash of insight’, I was faced with the most intense pleasurable sensation in my life. My depression became a distant nightmare for a moment. This made it clear to me that my depression was not a moral issue. It was a disorder that required treatment, and there was hope for a cure, ”Gizmodo quotes a patient named Sarah, who participated in the study. She spoke at a press briefing for scientists.
The key to the effectiveness of electrical stimulation was to tailor treatment to specific patterns of brain activity associated with depression. The dysfunction of the brain has been found in a part of the brain called the ventral striatum, which is involved in decision-making, as well as in the amygdala (a structure that regulates emotions). Scientists have taught a device that sends electrical impulses to recognize these patterns and respond to them with stimulation.
Previously, electrical impulses were used for GSHM, which were generated constantly or after a certain time of the day.
The authors of the method indicated that the clinical case presented by them suggests that the method has potential. However, its effectiveness and features need to be verified in large studies.
Among the disadvantages of this method of treatment are the high cost of the course and the laboriousness. Customizing electrical stimulation required a lot of effort on the part of scientists. One of their goals is to make the technique simpler and more accessible.