Shooting electrical pulses into the brain with a device designed to help Parkinson’s patients helped a 50-year-old man remember an event from 30 years earlier as precisely as if it had just happened.
The finding, a surprise to the researchers, may one day lead to new treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, they said. Doctors in
At one point, the patient recalled minute details of being in a park at age 20, according to a report in Wednesday’s Annals of Neurology, the journal of the American Neurological Association. Deep brain stimulation is approved in the
“On the basis of this case, we’ve initiated a pilot study for patients with early Alzheimer’s disease,” said Andres Lozano, a professor of neurosurgery at the
The device, called Activa, costs between $50,000 and $60,000 implanted and is similar in design to a heart pacemaker in pinpointing electrical charges within the body. In this case, the electrical impulses were designed to stimulate the hypothalamus, an area of the brain that controls blood pressure, body temperature, and body weight, the researchers said.
Brain activity was found in the hippocampus and temporal lobes, both known to be involved in memory, when the investigators used imaging devices to measure electrical activity in the brain. The authors wrote that the memory stimulation was an unanticipated side-effect of a treatment for obesity and was discovered in the operating room.
“To our surprise, as we turned on the device, he had a vivid experience of thirty years earlier,” Lozano said. At a check-up after the patient was released from the hospital, researchers noticed the same memory effects they saw in the operating room. Indiatimes.