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Adapting neural circuits Electrodes in the brain to treat Parkinson’s

Bern University Hospital is carrying out ground-breaking research that should lead to better treatments for a number of brain disorders. (RTS/swissinfo.ch) 

Neurosurgeon Claudio Pollo and his team are refining the procedure known as  deep brain stimulation or DBS, the use of electrodes in the brain to adjust neural activity and treat neurological disorders.

Clinical trials have shown that, by using smaller and more directional electrodes, less current is needed and there are fewer side effects from the treatment.

The results were published in the neurology journal Brain.

Electrodes implanted into targeted brain regions deliver electrical stimulation to either excite or inhibit activity in a neural circuit. DBS patients are fitted with battery-powered pulse generators, connected to the electrodes via insulated wires. The generator is  similar to a heart pacemaker and about the size of a stopwatch

It’s estimated that more than 100,000 patients worldwide have received DBS, mostly to treat Parkinson’s disease.

At present, the procedure is only used with patients whose symptoms cannot be adequately controlled with medication.