Severe obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) can be very debilitating, but what if the symptoms could be reduced? A new study carried out by neuropsychiatrists at the Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam shows that a brain-pacemaker is an effective method of correcting misfiring neural circuits and normalizing brain activity in OCD patients.
The study, ‘Deep brain stimulation restores frontostriatal network activity in obsessive-compulsive disorder’, was published in Nature Neuroscience. MIT Technology Review reports that the team used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to monitor blood flow changes in the brain in healthy patients and OCD patients being treated with deep brain stimulation.
The treatment seemed to break the “continuous cross talk and excessive connectivity between the frontal cortex and the nucleus accumbens,” which causes unhealthy and compulsive behaviors. It resynchronized the brain circuits, helping to put them back on track, therefore lessening the symptoms of OCD.
The next step for the team will be to use these brain activity measures to examine the workings of a patient’s deep-brain stimulator, as an implant has several electrodes and they want to work out which should be active and at which pulse settings for each person.