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Deep Brain Stimulation Can Boost Memory

It may help patients with severe depression and other disorders, study finds

MONDAY, April 16, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- Deep brain stimulation (DBS) appears to help improve memory in people with severe psychiatric disorders such as tough-to-treat depression and obsessive compulsive disorder, a U.S. study finds.

DBS involves the implantation of electrodes in the brain that are connected to a battery-powered "pulse generator" placed in the chest wall.

The Cleveland Clinic study included 10 people with obsessive compulsive disorder and eight people with treatment-resistant depression. They received DBS near brain regions thought to play an important role in emotional behavior and in different aspects of thinking such as planning, attention and memory.

The participants completed tests to assess their thinking skills before and after DBS. After the treatment, the patients showed significant improvements in their recall of prose passages.

The study was slated for presentation Monday at the annual meeting of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons in Washington, D.C.

"The placement of DBS electrodes in specific motor and psychiatric circuits in the brain has previously been shown to improve the symptoms of patients with movement or psychiatric disorders," study author and neuropsychologist Cynthia S. Kubu noted in a prepared statement.

"The findings of this most recent study need to be replicated, and more studies are planned to further understand our results," she added.

DBS has been used for decades to treat persistent pain and, more recently, has been used to treat Parkinson's disease symptoms such as tremor, stiffness and rigidity.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has more about deep brain stimulation for Parkinson's disease.

SOURCE: Cleveland Clinic, news release, April 16, 2007
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