Brain surgeons are no longer content with mere cutting or burning. Now, they are increasingly turning to implanted electrical devices - battery- powered pacemakers for the brain - to tweak faulty neural circuits.
BOSTON -- Accidental electrical stimulation of the brain during medical treatment can trigger bouts of deep depression that come and go almost instantly. French doctors made the discovery while treating a woman with Parkinson's disease. They implanted electrodes deep in her brain in an attempt to stimulate the parts that malfunction in her disease. To their surprise, they found that turning on one of these electrodes made the woman profoundly sad. She leaned to the right, started to cry and told of feeling of sad, guilty and useless.
Electrical stimulation of the brain can greatly improve the ability of Parkinson's disease patients to perform everyday tasks, a study found. In many people with advanced Parkinsonism, a progressive disease of the nervous system, the standard drug, levodopa, helps only some of the time. Patients alternate between periods of severe disease -- when they suffer from tremors, rigid limbs and inability to move -- and periods of relief.