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Medicine Technology

Brain Pacemaker Helps Treat Alzheimer's Disease 62

Posted by samzenpus
from the remember-this dept.
First time accepted submitter Press2ToContinue writes "Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is the use of a pacemaker-like device implanted in the brain to treat the symptoms of diseases like Parkinson's, or other maladies such as depression. For the first time in the US, surgeons at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Maryland have used this technique to attempt to slow memory loss in a patient suffering from the early stages of Alzheimer's disease. The fornix, a vital part of the brain that brings data to the hippocampus, is being targeted with this device. Essentially, the fornix is the area of the brain that converts electrical activity into chemical activity. Holes are drilled into the skull, and wires are placed on both sides of the brain. Then, the stimulator device pumps in small and unnoticeable electrical impulses upwards of 130 times per second. Half of the patients will begin the electrical treatment two weeks post-surgery, but the other half won't have their pacemakers turned on until a full year after the surgery to provide comparison data for the study."
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Brain Pacemaker Helps Treat Alzheimer's Disease

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  • Re: No, no, no. (Score:0, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 09, 2012 @11:49AM (#42233757)

    Loosing your memories is only a problem if you know you've lost them. From the sufferers point of view, they don't know.

  • Re: No, no, no. (Score:4, Informative)

    by GLMDesigns (2044134) on Sunday December 09, 2012 @01:45PM (#42234493) Homepage
    My father went through Alzheimers. He knew that he should know something and could not recall it. It's a horrifying disease and the person knows it (at least for the first few stages.) At the end, maybe you're right. But you have years of misery before that point.
  • Fornix (Score:5, Informative)

    by venicebeach (702856) on Sunday December 09, 2012 @03:24PM (#42235369) Homepage Journal
    "Essentially, the fornix is the area of the brain that converts electrical activity into chemical activity."

    That is an egregious description of the fornix. All of the brain's electrical activity is electro-chemical, and the fornix has no special role that relates to converting electrical activity into chemical activity.

    The fornix is a bundle of axons (i.e. a white matter tract) that connects the hippocampus with the hypothalamus.

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