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Scientists reveal brain circuit mechanisms underlying arousal regulation, which will be useful in improving deep brain stimulation therapy.

Stashed in: Brain, Stanford, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Mental Health

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So... The brain is more complicated than we thought?

The study’s results mark a conceptual shift from a chemical-deficit-or-excess notion of brain disorders to a more nuanced information-processing theory of how the brain works and, when it isn’t working well, why not.

The findings, published online Dec. 10 in eLife, hold direct implications for an increasingly widespread therapeutic approach called deep brain stimulation. 

They point to DBS’s potential for restoring consciousness in minimally conscious patients and countering other cases of impaired consciousness. The findings also highlight the importance of determining optimal stimulation frequencies for DBS devices used across a wide range of brain disorders and demonstrate a method for making those determinations.

The research suggests that a brain structure can be like a radio whose different stations, operating at different frequencies and playing different kinds of music, variously attract or repel different “listening audiences.”

DBS involves the insertion of an electrical-signaling device into a specific area of the brain. It has provided therapeutic benefits to patients with disorders ranging from Parkinson’s disease and essential tremor to major depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

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