Updated on 16 July 2012
Mayo Clinic pioneers method to monitor the brain in real-time
Singapore: Scientists at the Mayo Clinic have developed a new methodology to monitor real-time chemical changes in the brains of patients undergoing deep brain stimulation (DBS). The groundbreaking insight will help physicians to use DBS more effectively in order to treat brain disorders such as Parkinson's disease, depression and Tourette syndrome. The findings are published in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings.
Researchers hope to use the discovery to create a DBS system that can instantly respond to chemical changes in the brain. Parkinson's, Tourette syndrome and depression all involve a surplus or deficiency of neurochemicals in the brain. The idea is to monitor those neurochemicals and adjust them to appropriate levels.
Dr Su-Youne Chang, neurosurgery department, Mayo Clinic, said that, "We can learn what neurochemicals can be released by DBS, neurochemical stimulation, or other stimulation. We can basically learn how the brain works."
The team used fast scan cyclic voltammetry (FSCV) to quantify concentrations of adenosine released in patients during deep brain stimulation. The data was recorded using wireless instantaneous neurotransmitter concentration sensing, a small wireless neurochemical sensor implanted in the patient's brain.
The sensor, combined with FSCV, scans for the neurotransmitter and translates that information onto a laptop in the operating room. The sensor has previously identified neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine in tests in brain tissue. This was the first time researchers used this technique in patients.
Mr Kevin Bennet, a Mayo Clinic engineer who helped create the system, said that, "With the stimulator and detection, we can create algorithms and then raise neurotransmitters to a specified level. We can raise these chemicals to appropriate levels, rising and falling with each person throughout their life. Within milliseconds, we can measure, calculate and respond. From the patient's perspective, this would be essentially instantaneous."