Researchers reveal how deep brain stimulation helps treat Parkinson's disease



An international team of researchers has revealed the key mechanism behind deep brain stimulation used to treat Parkisnson's disease. The find can help new therapeutic plans and postoperative management.

One of the most advanced neurological treatments for Parkinson's disease, deep brain stimulation combines neurology, neurosurgery and electrical engineering, allowing doctors to implant tiny electrodes in the patient's brain. Exploring the neural mechanism that makes deep brain stimulation impact brain networks is important for neuroscience and medicine in general.

Researchers from Tsinghua University and Harvard University analyzed the neurological basis of Parkinson's patients under deep brain stimulation by using functional MRI, an advanced medical imaging technique.

They conducted a yearlong brain function study of 14 patients implanted with their newly-developed 3.0 tesla MRI-compatible deep brain stimulation system and collected rich neuroimaging data sufficient for precise individual-level studies.

They discovered two neural circuits closely related to the improvement of motor symptoms among Parkinson's patients. One neural circuit was sensitive to rapid change in deep brain stimulation, while the response of another circuit emerged over time.

The research was published in the journal Annals of Neurology.

Tsinghua University's Jiang Changqing, one of the researchers, said the study offers novel insights into the neural mechanisms of deep brain stimulation, which will help optimize treatment plans and improve the quality of life of Parkinson's patients.

Jiang said his team spent more than ten years in developing a deep brain stimulation system compatible with 3.0 tesla MRI that is fully functional, safe and vital to the study.

"We will use this facility to do more research that will help optimize deep brain stimulation treatment plans for Parkinson's and other brain diseases," Jiang said. 



Editor: Gao Han