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Barrow researcher launches depression study
Date:3/9/2011

A top medical researcher at Barrow Neurological Institute at St. Joseph's Hospital in Phoenix, Arizona, has launched a clinical trial to pinpoint brain activity in depressed people by using scientifically designed sad and heartrending photos and music. Results will be used to help neurosurgeons at the new Barrow Center for Neuromodulation treat clinically depressed patients with deep brain stimulation.

Neuropsychologist Leslie Baxter, PhD, who also is an expert in medical brain mapping, is leading the novel depression study that could help revolutionize treatment of depressed patients.

"Treatment for severe depression has been a medical challenge for decades," says Dr. Baxter. "We hope through this clinical trial to help make deep brain stimulation a mainstream treatment for this devastating condition." Depression affects 121 million people worldwide and ranks among the leading causes of disability. At least 20 percent of patients do not respond to traditional treatments.

Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is the cornerstone of the new Barrow Neuromodulation Center. Deep brain stimulation involves the implantation of an electrode deep within the brain in the area associated with a disorder. A medical device, sometimes called a brain pacemaker, sends electrical signals to the brain, alleviating symptoms. An established treatment for movement disorders, Barrow is now pioneering its use in other behavioral and neurological disorders including depression, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), pain and autism.

In the depression clinical trial, non-depressed and depressed patients undergo a "Functional MRI" for the hour-long MRI study. The patients are shown photos and videos of sad and tragic scenes to elicit sadness. As the Functional MRI lights up brain circuitry, the researchers are able to identify the exact point of individuals' brains that are being activated and the circuits that can be changed during depression.

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Contact: Lynne Reaves
lynne.reaves@chw.edu
602-406-4734
St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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