March 07, 2004

The Potential of 'Brain Pacemakers'

The Potential of 'Brain Pacemakers' (Washington Post)

Though not directly addressing schizophrenia, this article discusses the potential use of "brain pacemakers" to ameliorate symptoms of depression and OCD, two disorders many schizophrenia patients also suffer from. To date this treatment has been successfully employed for treating Parkinsons and to some degree OCD. Research is only being done on patients who have run the gamut of alternative therapies. How does it work?

"using computerized scans and electrical monitoring of the firing of nerve cells to precisely guide them, they carefully thread two electrodes, each about the diameter of a piece of spaghetti, to specific areas on each side of the brain, depending on the nature of the disorder. Because brain surgery is painless, the operation is done while the patient is conscious so his responses can help guide the surgeons. The electrodes are attached to wires embedded under the skin that lead down the side of the patient's head, neck and shoulder to battery-operated, adjustable pacemakers implanted under the collarbone. "

""The brain is an electrical organ with circuitry that carries messages. It's like having an orchestra playing a symphony, with various areas playing different parts. They have to play together," said Ali R. Rezai, director of functional neurosurgery at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Ohio. "In some cases, some parts aren't playing in synchrony. You hear chaotic music. That's what's happening -- it's chaotic activity. We can get in there and modulate that chaotic activity." "


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