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CSHL scientists identify elusive neuronal targets of deep brain stimulation
Date:12/14/2010

Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y. Shooting steady pulses of electricity through slender electrodes into a brain area that controls complex behaviors has proven to be effective against several therapeutically stubborn neurological and neuropsychiatric disorders. Now, a new study has found that this technique, called deep brain stimulation (DBS), targets the same class of neuronal cells that are known to respond to physical exercise and drugs such as Prozac.

The study, led by Associate Professor Grigori Enikolopov, Ph.D., of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL), is the cover story in the January 1st issue of The Journal of Comparative Neurology, which is currently available online.

The targeted neuronal cells, which increase in number in response to DBS, are a type of precursor cell that ultimately matures into adult neurons in the brain's hippocampus, the control center for spatial and long-term memory, emotion, behavior and other functions that go awry in diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, epilepsy and depression. DBS has been successful in treating some cases of Parkinson's. And recently, it has also proven to work against other brain disorders such as epilepsy and severe depression.

"But the clinical application of DBS to treat neuropsychiatric disorders is still problematic because there isn't a clear rationale or a guide for which brain regions need to be stimulated to achieve maximum therapeutic benefit," says Enikolopov. "Our study now points to the brain region whose stimulation results in new cell growth in the hippocampus, an area that is implicated in many behavioral and cognitive disorders."

Enikolopov has long been interested in understanding how neuronal and neuroendocrine circuits are involved in mood regulation. "To that end, the question we've been asking is whether different types of stimuli, such as exercise or drugs or DBS, target different types of brain cells and circuits or converge on the
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Contact: Hema Bashyam
bashyam@cshl.edu
516-367-6822
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert  

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