For the past 15 years, Doctors have used electrical pulses on the brain to help fix some pretty serious problems. This stimulation has shown success in people with Parkinson’s disease, depression, or any other neurological problem. Researchers have hypothesized that these deep electrical pulses to the brain should also help improve Alzheimer’s disease. Similar to a heart pacemaker, the researchers believe that a small device could be implemented into the brain that will send out these electrical signals. by sending out these pulses frequently, the brain will stay more active thus decreasing the severity of Alzheimer’s.
Surgeons at John Hopkins in Baltimore were the first to start implementing these devices into patients that were showing the early stages of Alzheimer’s. The device uses DBS (deep brain stimulation) which is very comparable to how a heart pacemaker functions. As of December 7, 2012, this new idea only is being used one one patient, although approximately forty new patients are supposed to have the device implanted within the next year. When tested in the lab, the stimulation increases the rate of metabolism of glucose, and those with a higher rate did not have as severe Alzheimer’s in comparison to a low rate of glucose metabolism.
The main focus area for the brain pacemaker, is called the fornix. The fornix is where electrical energy is converted into chemical energy. Although this is not expect to be a cure for Alzheimer’s, researchers believe that it should slow down the rate of memory-loss. The doctors believe that this is a good idea to test with Alzheimer’s because it has shown a lot of success with other neurological problems. DBS was first started to reduce tremors, and has been very successful and has also shown success with epileptic patients. DBS has also been used to stimulate the brain and bring people out from a coma, and plans to be tested on people who have severe mental disorders(OCD).