Scientists have found a way to measure depression

Scientists have found a way to use deep brain simulation to identify depression, measure the areas of the brain it’s affecting, and even correct the condition using neuroscience techniques.

For jonathan klotz
| Published

A new report from the MIT Technology Review offers fascinating insight into how clinicians can treat depression using a breakthrough in neuroscience that has established a decoder for mood. Using electrodes implanted in the human brainresearchers have been able to discover the connection between the brain exercise and mood. Dr. Sameer Sheth, the principal investigator based at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, states that “this is the first demonstration of successful and consistent decoding of mood in humans in these brain regions.” , allowing doctors to determine how severe an individual’s depression is. and the best way to treat it.

researchers have been using deep brain simulation (DBS) to treat Parkinson’s for years, but using the practice to correct depression is finally becoming a reality of being a neuroscience theory for generations. In the early years, researchers tried using DBS to treat depression, but the results were disappointing, resulting in the to study being declared unfinished. Taking a neuroscience technique used to deliver brain surgery, Dr. Sheth’s team implants electrodes throughout the brain of patients, scanning multiple regions at once, as depression is never confined to just one region of the brain.

Dr. Riva Posse, one of the researchers on the project, says: “This will greatly advance the understanding of depression and help to find … approaches to neurostimulation.”

The researchers implanted four electrodes into the brain of a test subject, placing a battery on the patient’s chest that periodically sent a pulse of electricity through the electrodes. One patient, John, reported that his depression disappeared over a period of six months, demonstrating the validity of the neuroscience theory. Electrode implantation is obviously invasive and expensive, but the data from the experiment can be used to create generalized “maps” of brain activity, allowing other doctors to treat patients with less invasive techniques.

With only three patients so far, Dr. Sheth’s team has already found commonalities in the subject’s brain regions. Using the base electrical activity “mood decoder,” the scientists were able to determine the mood of individual patients without resorting to asking subjective questions. Currently, depression is diagnosed through an interview process, which can be a flawed approach, making a robust and objective diagnostic method a huge step forward for neuroscience.

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A model of deep brain stimulation

The ultimate goal, according to Dr. Sheth, is to collect information about brain activity non-invasively, ideally from a device that is placed on the patient’s head. Currently, brain scans are not accurate enough to determine electrical activity on an individual level, which could lead to depression being missed in one or overtreated in another, highlighting a current problem with neuroscience. . Accounting for the almost infinite number of differences in the human brain is difficult even under the best conditions, let alone in subjects dealing with chronic treatment-resistant depression.

Millions of people suffer from depression, millions more go undiagnosed, so DBS techniques to improve diagnosis and correct the condition are almost a Holy Grail of neuroscience. With a successful small-scale study successfully presented at the recent neurology conference in San Diego last November, Dr. Riva Posse, a member of the research team, says: “This will greatly advance the understanding of depression and help will come”. with… neurostimulation approaches.” DBS may not work for everyone who suffers from chronic depression, but the study results are promising and provide hope for everyone who is always told, “just try and be happy.”

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