Health Discoveries in Movement Disorders, Parkinsons etc

DBS may help memory in Alzheimer's patients

October 26, 2010

Deep brain stimulation (DBS), used for people with neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's, shows promise of improving memory in patients with Alzheimer's disease, according to a new Canadian study.

The research team came upon the determination when they were using DBS to help an obese patient control his appetite.

"We tested implanting an electrode in the areas of the brain that controlled appetite while [he was] awake," said Dr. Andres M. Lozano, chairman of neurosurgery at the University of Toronto. "While we were inserting the electrodes and turning them on, to our surprise, we were able to unlock some memories of events that happened over 30 years ago in this particular man."

That case caused the neurosciences researchers to embark on a DBS study involving Alzheimer's patients for a year. In areas of the brain that were damaged by Alzheimer's, imaging scans shows greater glucose metabolism, which indicates more brain activity. The study has been published in the Annals of Neurology.

Dr. Alon Mogilner, a neurosurgeon at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, New York, has successfully used DBS for patients with chronic headaches. The hospital, part of the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System, is the only medical center in Long Island and Queens to offer DBS surgery.

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