Direct Electrical Stimulation of Lateral Orbitofrontal Cortex Acutely Improves Mood in Individuals with Symptoms of Depression: Current Biology
Good morning! Andrew Joseph here filling in for Megan for one more day. She'll be back with you Monday.
Lab Chat: A stimulation target to treat depression
THE OFC IS THE GREEN REGION (BEN SPEIDEL, CHANG LAB, UCSF)
Researchers have identified a brain region that could be a ripe target for therapeutic stimulation as a way to ease depressive symptoms. For the preliminary study
, published in Current Biology, the researchers examined a group of 25 patients who had mild to severe depression and already had electrodes implanted into their brains as part of a standard epilepsy treatment. Participants reported improvements in their mood after they received electrical stimulation in the lateral orbitofrontal cortex, or OFC, a poorly understood region of the brain. Interestingly, the improvements in mood were seen only in people with more severe symptoms. STAT caught up with lead author Kristin Sellers of the University of California, San Francisco to talk about the work:How does stimulating the OFC improve mood, and why only in patients with more intense depressive symptoms?
What we think is happening is that the stimulation may be removing some sort of block in patients with more severe depression that prevents them from being able to experience positive mood or the natural range of mood. These patients tended to be, when we started the study, in a poor mood. So perhaps it is normalizing these circuits.What are you planning for follow-up studies?
We’re interested to see if the effects still hold in patients whose primary condition is major depressive disorder. In parallel, we’re looking at more refined ways of applying stimulation. In this study, we basically just turned stimulation on. But if we can find an activity pattern in the brain that correlates to a symptom, then we can apply stimulation only when the patient is in a symptomatic state. It would be more targeted.