Scientists, including one of Indian origin, have identified a brain region that can be electrically stimulated to improve mood in people suffering from depression. According to a study published in the journal Current Biology, timulation of a brain region called the lateral orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) reliably produced acute improvement in mood in patients who suffered from depression. Those effects were not seen in patients without mood symptoms, suggesting that brain stimulation works to normalize activity in mood related neural circuitry, researcher said. “Stimulation induced pattern of activity in brain regions connected to OFC that was similar to patterns seen when patients
naturally experienced positive mood states,” said Vikram Rao, of the University of California, San Francisco in the US. “Our findings suggest OFC is promising new stimulation target for treatment of mood disorders,” said Rao. The team studied 25 patients with epilepsy who had electrodes placed in the brain for medical reasons to pinpoint the origin of their seizures. Many of those patients also suffered from depression, which is often seen in people with epilepsy. With the patients’ consent, researchers took advantage of those electrodes to deliver small electrical pulses to areas of the brain thought to be involved in regulating mood. Previous studies have explored deep brain stimulation (DBS) for mood disorders, but its success depends critically on target selection. Targets in other mood-related areas deep in brain hadn’t always led to reliable improvements. In new study, they focused their attention and electrical stimulation on the OFC. The OFC is a key hub for mood-related circuitry. However, it is also widely regarded as one of the least well understood brain regions. “Although OFC is a more superficial target, it shares rich interconnections with several brain regions implicated in emotion processing,” Sellers said. That made this relatively small brain area attractive target for therapeutic stimulation. The researchers used the implanted electrodes to stimulate OFC and other brain regions while collecting verbal mood reports and questionnaire scores. Those studies found that unilateral stimulation of lateral OFC produced acute, dose-dependent moodstate improvement in subjects with moderate-to-severe baseline depression. The changes in brain activity researchers observed after stimulation closely resembled those seen when people in good mood. The findings show that the mood can immediately improved by electrical stimulation of relatively small area.
Source: Daily Post
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