Stimulating brain regions to treat Parkinson’s disease, depression, and other disorders involving brain damage could become more precise, thanks to a new way of mapping the brain circuitry involved in those conditions.
The study describing this research, “Brain stimulation and brain lesions converge on common causal circuits in neuropsychiatric disease,” was published in Nature Human Behaviour.
Depression and Parkinson’s both associate with well-defined brain lesions and can be treated with deep brain stimulation (DBS) and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS).
Both techniques involve stimulating electrical activity in specific brain regions. However, proving that a targeted location in the brain actually corresponds to a specific point of damage and that this affects a symptom of interest has been a challenge.
The controlled experiments that enable scientists to map neural circuits in animals rarely can be repeated in humans.
An international team of researchers addressed this issue by analyzing data on the well-defined brain lesions associated with Parkinson’s and depression, and that are commonly treated with both DBS and TMS.