Mapping the brain circuits that cause depression

Posted by February 4, 2016 | News | No Comments

CNEP co-director and UCSF neurosurgeon Edward Chang routinely implants electrodes onto the surface of people’s brains out of medical necessity. For people suffering from uncontrolled epilepsy, electrodes can be used to locate the neuronal source of seizures. Targeted surgery may then provide some relief.

Chang is now leading an effort to map the brain circuits that cause depression and other mood disorders using a similar approach. Patients who have electrodes implanted for epilepsy or Parkinson’s Disease are asked to participate in a study on depression. Their electrode data is correlated with their moods, which is quantified with an app by Posit Science.

The ultimate goal is to go a step beyond identifying the brain circuits involved in mood disorders and retrain the brain to unlearn depression and anxiety. Chang and a multi-institutional team of collaborators aim to create a self-contained device that can provide therapeutic brain stimulation. This closed-loop system would need to detect depressive brain activity, interpret the signals, then give an electrical stimulus to shift brain activity into a healthy pattern, similar to the way an implantable defibrillator or pacemaker can correct irregular heart rhythms.

Read the full story, “Illuminating Depression’s Circuitry
Dcember 2, 2015 | UCSF News Center

Image from UCnet