Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Newest psychiatric horror: Brain pacemakers to zap psychiatric disease

Call them brain pacemakers, tiny implants that hold promise for fighting tough psychiatric diseases — if scientists can figure out just where in all that gray matter to put them.

Deep brain stimulation, or DBS, has proved a powerful way to block the tremors of Parkinson's disease. Blocking mental illness isn't nearly as easy a task.

But a push is on to expand research into how well these brain stimulators tackle the most severe cases of depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and Tourette's syndrome — to know best how to use them before too many doctors and patients clamor to try.

"It's not a light switch," cautions Dr. Michael Okun of the University of Florida. (read more)