Researchers Develop Self-Tuning Brain Implant

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Researchers developed a self-tuning brain implant that might help in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease, according to a study published on May 29, 2018.

The conventional method of treating Parkinson’s disease is by using deep brain stimulation. However, limitations of deep brain stimulation method has led to the development of a fully implanted DBS system, which uses feedback from the brain to fine-tune its signaling.

In deep brain stimulation method, an electrode is surgically implanted into the brain to manage the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. The conventional deep brain stimulation delivers constant stimulation to a part of the brain called the basal ganglia to help treat the symptoms of Parkinson’s. However, this method causes unwanted side effects, which will then require reprogramming by a trained clinician. The new method is adaptive, so that the stimulation delivered is responsive in real time to signals received from the patient’s brain.

Two patients with Parkinson’s were included for the feasibility trial and they received a fully implanted, adaptive deep brain stimulation device. In this device, sensing was done from an electrode implanted over the primary motor cortex. Then, the computer program integrated within the device, which determines whether to stimulate the brain receives the signals that are generated from the electrode. The program was taught to recognize a pattern of brain activity associated with dyskinesia or uncontrolled movements, which is a side effect of deep brain stimulation in Parkinson’s disease. When dyskinesia-related brain activity was identified, a reduction in stimulation was observed and it increased when brain sensing indicated no dyskinesia to minimize deep brain stimulation-related side effects.

Philip Starr, professor of neurological surgery said, “Here we have demonstrated the feasibility of adaptive deep brain stimulation. We are now planning larger, longer-term trials to determine how effective this system is in managing the symptoms of patients with Parkinson’s disease.”

 

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