UCSF Finding Suggests Better Way to Monitor, Treat Disease with Deep Brain Stimulation
A team of scientists and clinicians at UC San Francisco has discovered how to detect abnormal brain rhythms associated with Parkinson’s by implanting electrodes within the brains of people with the disease.
The work may lead to developing the next generation of brain stimulation devices to alleviate symptoms for people with the disease.
Described this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), the work sheds light on how Parkinson’s disease affects the brain, and is the first time anyone has been able to measure a quantitative signal from the disease within the cerebral cortex – the outermost layers of the brain that helps govern memory, physical movement and consciousness.
“Normally the individual cells of the brain are functioning independently much of the time, working together only for specific tasks,” said neurosurgeon Philip Starr, MD, PhD, a professor of neurological surgery at UCSF and senior author of the paper. But in Parkinson’s disease, he said, many brain cells display “excessive synchronization,” firing together inappropriately most of the time.
“They are locked into playing the same note as everyone else without exploring their own music,” Starr explained. This excessive synchronization leads to movement problems and other symptoms characteristic of the disease.
The new work also shows how deep brain stimulation (DBS), which electrifies regions deeper in the brain, below the cortex, can affect the cortex, itself. This discovery may change how DBS is used to treat Parkinson’s and other neurologically based movement disorders, and it may help refine the technique for other types of treatment. Read the rest of the article and view images.