Woman successfully treated for depression with electrical brain implant

‘Stunning’ neuroscientific advance gives hope to those with mental illness not helped with drugs

 woman with severe depression has been successfully treated with an experimental brain implant in a “stunning” advance that offers hope to those with intractable mental illness.

The device works by detecting patterns of brain activity linked to depression and automatically interrupting them using tiny pulses of electrical stimulation delivered deep inside the brain.

The 36-year-old patient, Sarah, said the therapy had returned her to “a life worth living”, allowing her to laugh spontaneously for the first time in five years.

Although the therapy has been tested in only one patient – and would only ever be suitable for those with severe illness – the success is seen as hugely significant. It is the first demonstration that the brain activity underlying the symptoms of mental illness can be reliably detected and reveals that these brain circuits can be nudged back into a healthy state, even in a patient who has been unwell for years.

“We haven’t been able to do this kind of personalised therapy previously in psychiatry,” said Katherine Scangos, an assistant professor of clinical psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), who led the work. “This success in itself is an incredible advancement in our knowledge of the brain function that underlies mental illness.”

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2021/oct/04/woman-successfully-treated-for-depression-with-electrical-brain-implant

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