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Electricity to treat depression?
Researchers have now found that when people are depressed, electrical stimulation treatment on a specific part of the brain leads to significant mood improvements.
In their current study, scientists from the University of California, San Francisco found that so-called stimulation treatment of the brain leads to significant mood improvements in people with depression. The doctors published the results of their study in the English-language journal "Current Biology".
Treatment focused on the orbitofrontal cortex
In their treatment, the experts focused on the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), which is located on the lower surface of the brain above the eyes, in patients with moderate to severe depression. The orbitofrontal cortex is one of the least understood regions in the brain, the researchers say. However, the orbitofrontal cortex is closely linked to various brain structures related to mood, depression, and decision making, so it is very well positioned to coordinate activity between emotion and cognition, adds study author Dr. Eddie Chang of the University of California added in a press release.
What did the electrical treatment do?
A weak electrical current was applied to 25 patients with epilepsy who had minimal to severe depression symptoms for three minutes. The patients reported an improvement in their mood, overall they were calmer and less anxious. The participants also experienced a visible improvement in their body language, they smiled more, sat straighter and spoke faster and more naturally, the doctors explain.
More research is needed
However, more research is needed on larger groups of people to better understand whether stimulation of the orbitofrontal cortex really leads to permanent mood improvement. The more experts understand about brain circuit depression, the more options are available to offer patients effective treatments with a low risk of side effects. Perhaps one day it will even be possible to get the human brain to completely forget about depression, the University of California scientists hope. (as)