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Published by Rob Jones

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Published by: Rob Jones on Dec 04, 2010
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02/09/2013

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Issue 2Hilary 08
 
eep brain stimulation techniquesare being tested to restore thememory of dementia patients.Although it will do nothing to treat theunderlying disease that causes dementia,the hope is that it will help them to holdon to their identities for longer. The teamin Canada stumbled upon the techniquewhilst attempting to treat a morbidlyobese man through deep brain stimula-tion.Lead research Professor Andres Lo-zano, of the Toronto Western Hospital,Ontario, said: “This is a single case thatwas totally unexpected. We knew imme-
diately this was important. We are suf
-ciently intrigued to see if this could helppeople withmemory dis-orders.”The Canadian team had been trying tohelp a 50-year-old obese man with type 2diabetes and sleeping disorders who hadfailed to respond to diet, medicationsand psychological help.He had refused gastric surgery, anddoctors decided to perform deep brainstimulation of the hypothalamus; astructure in the brain linked with ap-petite. During surgery, electrodes wereimplanted in the brain under local anaes-thesia, with the patient awake so that hisresponses could be monitored.When the electrodes were stimulatedby electrical impulses the patient beganto experience feelings of deja vu. He hada sudden perception of being in a parkwith friends. He felt younger, thoughthe was around 20-years-old, and hisgirlfriend of the time was there.A year later the patient again per-formed well in memory tests when theelectrodes were stimulated, but lesswell when they were switchedoff. “We hopefully have found a circuitin the brain which can be modulated bystimulation, and which might provide
benet to patients with memory disor
-ders,” said Prof Lozano.
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