Read this story about a mood coder that neuroscientists have created that can measure depression

Deep brain stimulation is a topic that excites me every time I read about it. The procedure — which involves implanting electrodes deep in the brain to deliver regular electrical impulses — is being used to treat people like my mom who suffer from movement disorders such as Parkinson’s diseaseEpilepsy or other forms of epilepsy. Researchers are also looking into whether it could be used to treat depression. However, the results so far have been mixed.

This is one reason. The story you posted MIT Technology ReviewI was captivated. Neuroscientists have discovered a “mood decoder” — a way to measure a person’s mood just by looking at brain activity for the first time — that can improve deep brain stimulation for depression. The research was presented recently at the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting.

We still don’t know much about depression, unlike Parkinson’s disease. Because there are so many symptoms associated with depression, it is difficult to identify which brain areas are affected. Therefore, it is challenging to determine what stimulation needs to be done.

Neuroscientists discovered that the brain recordings of three out of five volunteers showed that the cingulate cortex, a part of the brain, fires in one direction when a patient is feeling well and in the opposite direction when he is feeling low. All three volunteers had the same pattern.

They can, in other words. We seeSome symptoms of depression were found in a common area among the three people.

“This is our first evidence of consistent mood decoding in these brain areas,” said Samir Sheth who is a Baylor College of Medicine neurosurgeon.

As with many depression treatments, what works well for one person may not work for another. DBS and the trial have many drawbacks. It’s not easy to say that DBS will work for millions of people suffering from depression, when I have only studied a few people. Although neuroscientists know this, they don’t plan on repeating the procedure for more people than two. Sheth and his colleagues are instead looking for patterns to improve deep brain stimulation. They have now implanted electrodes in four more people suffering from major depression, and plan to continue their research on twelve people.

However, it is very risky to drill a hole in your skull, check, and then send electricity to different parts your brain. It can also be very expensive and costly. On average $22,802.

It is a step in the right direction. Sheth and his colleagues are already exploring new avenues for deep brain stimulation and understanding depression. Just as importantly, for me at least, their work takes us one step further to destigmatize a condition that many still believe is “in one’s head” — which it technically is, but now there may be a way we can see it.

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