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'Deep brain stimulation could help Alzheimer's patients'

'Deep brain stimulation could help Alzheimer's patients'
30th January 2008

Deep electrical stimulation of the brain could prompt improved memories, according to new research.

A team of doctors in Canada are conducting early tests into the procedure after "stumbling upon it" while treating a morbidly obese man with deep brain stimulation (DBS).

When the electrodes were stimulated the patient had a sense of deja vu and after three weeks of treatment performed consistently better in memory tests.

It is thought that the treatment could be used to help the 417,000 UK patients suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

Lead researcher Professor Andres Lozano, of the Toronto Western Hospital, told the BBC: "This is a single case that was totally unexpected.

"We knew immediately this was important. We are sufficiently intrigued to see if this could help people with memory disorders."

The technique, which involves implanting electrodes into the brain- in this case the hypothalamus, has previously been used to help Parkinson's patients as well as people with chronic pain, severe cluster headaches and depression.

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