Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) is a newer treatment option for patients with severe depression. Using pulses of current, DBS regulates specific areas of the brain (DBS is often referred to as the 'Pacemaker for the Brain'). Developed in the 1980s, DBS was not used to treat depression until Foundation Scientific Council Member Helen Mayberg, M.D. began her pioneering work with the technology in 2003 with the support of a NARSAD Distinguished Investigator Grant and the findings of her earlier NARSAD-Grant funded work. DBS is used in the treatment of depression to target an area in the brain Dr. Mayberg found to be an important locus of depression pathology.
20 years ago, Dr. Mayberg used her first NARSAD Young Investigator Grant to investigate brain changes in depressed patients using functional neuroimaging. With the help of a second NARSAD Grant, she went on to identify the subcallosal cingulate--Brodman Area 25--as not only a key conduit of neural traffic that gives rise to emotion, but also as an area that appears overactive in depressed people. In 2002, with a NARSAD Distinguished Investigator Grant, she led breakthrough research when she piloted the use of DBS to target ‘Area 25’.
Today, a new study called BROADEN (Brodmann Area Deep brain Neuromodulation) is taking place at multiple research centers around the country including Vanderbilt University Medical Center, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Virginia Commonwealth University and the Zucker Hillside Hospital in New York in an attempt to further justify the use of DBS for treatment-resistant depression. Participating in this randomized clinical study are NARSAD Grantees Ronald Salomon, M.D. (Vanderbilt University), Anthony Rothschild, M.D. (University of Massachusetts Medical School), and Stephan Taylor, M.D. (University of Michigan).
To learn more about Deep Brain Stimulation, watch CNN Presents on April 21, 8pm EST to see a great recovery story featuring a woman who was treated by Dr. Mayberg at Emory University for her severe depression.