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Brain pacemakers: A long-lasting solution in the fight against depression
Date:1/31/2011

timulation has been tested to date in three different areas of the brain: the nucleus accumbens, the internal capsule, and a structure known as cg25. Surprisingly, the effects are nearly identical - regardless of which of these centers the physicians stimulate. Together with colleagues from Baltimore and Washington, the Bonn researchers have since been able to explain why this is the case: Using a novel tomography method, they were able to make the "cable system" of the three brain centers visible. "In doing this, we determined that at least two of these three areas - probably even all three - are attached to one and the same cable harness," explains the Bonn brain surgeon, Professor Dr. Volker Coenen.

This is the so-called medial forebrain bundle, a structure which has been known in animals for a long time. The forebrain bundle forms a kind of feedback loop which allows us to anticipate positive experiences. "This circuit motivates us to take action," says Coenen. "In patients with depression, it is apparently disrupted. This results in, among other things, an extreme lack of drive - a characteristic symptom of the disease."

The nucleus accumbens, internal capsule, und cg25 all appear to be connected to the medial forebrain bundle - rather like leaves are connected to the branch from which they arise. Whoever stimulates one of these regions of the brain simultaneously influences the other components of the motivation circuit to a certain extent. Coenen, who was the first to anatomically describe the forebrain bundle in humans, now proposes implanting the electrode for deep brain stimulation directly into this structure. "We would use the electrode to send the current pulses to the base of the network and not to the periphery, as before," explains Schlpfer. "We could thus potentially work with lower currents and yet achieve greater success."

A comparatively low-risk procedure

Observations of patients with Parkinson's dise
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Contact: Volker A. Coenen
volker.coenen@ukb.uni-bonn.de
49-228-287-16503
University of Bonn
Source:Eurekalert

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