Research ArticleDeep Brain Stimulation

Optimized temporal pattern of brain stimulation designed by computational evolution

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Science Translational Medicine  04 Jan 2017:
Vol. 9, Issue 371, eaah3532
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aah3532

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Building better DBS with evolution

In deep brain stimulation (DBS), electrodes inserted deep within a patients’ brain deliver electric pulses that can alleviate symptoms of Parkinson’s disease or tremor or even of diseases such as obsessive-compulsive disorder. Yet, the stimuli are usually standard, with uniform frequencies and amplitudes. To design better stimuli, Brocker et al. built a model of Parkinson’s disease and used computational evolution to find a new temporal stimulation pattern. Application of this evolution-derived stimulation pattern in animal models and Parkinson’s disease patients verified that it was just as effective as the standard stimulation pattern but required significantly less overall energy. Because one drawback of DBS is the need for frequent risky surgeries to change the power source, less drain on the battery means healthier patients.

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