Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Artificial Stimulation of the Brain

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Buffalo conducted an interesting study related to stimulation of brain regions.  Brain stimulation is used to treat patients that have certain disorders by using electricity.  Researchers were trying to determine which areas or regions of the brain to stimulate based on the disorder.  This was increasingly difficult because each region connects to other regions in ways that are not understood.  To learn more about brain stimulation, these connections and pathways had to be studied and evaluated.
Using a model mapped from an MRI scanner, eight individuals' brains were evaluated. Every region in the brain (there are 83) were stimulated. With the exception of a few outliers, the majority of the results were the same.  When stimulating certain regions of the brain, network hubs in particular, the activation of many regions within the brain was shown.  This may be linked to the amount of white matter within these areas.  The white matter connects regions of the brain together, and these regions resulted in a higher amount of activation when one region was stimulated.

Within the two sub-networks of the brain, the subcortical network and the default mode network, there were dramatic changes caused by the stimulation. The subcortical network stimulation resulted in many regions being triggered. The default mode network also had many regions switched on, but only where the white matter was linked to another region.

This research shows that treatment of disorders is possible in the future by doing a complete change in the brain network from stimulating the subcortical network or by performing a more specific change throughout the brain from stimulating the default mode network.  This is promising research within the neuroscience field. With more research in the future, electric stimulation could cure certain disorders.

1 comment:

  1. Does stimulating different parts of the brain effect the behavior of the people with these disorders? In other words how would this act as some type of treatment for these people, is it like rerouting the brain to eliminate the symptoms of the disorder?