Techniques Used in Neuroscience Field

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There are so many neuroscience techniques and more are being researched and explored. Not every technique works for everyone, because we all are different so someone may respond to a technique and someone may not.

Deep brain stimulation is a surgical procedure that implants electrodes deep in the brain in specific areas to help regulate abnormal impulses. The electrodes are connected to a pacemaker device that controls the amount of stimulation that the electrodes receive. Deep brain stimulation can help with many conditions such as Dystonia, epilepsy, essential tremor, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and Parkinson's disease.

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Deep brain stimulation surgery occurs in two stages. The first stage is the placement of electrodes very precisely into the brain, and the second stage is the placement of the implantable pulse generator, which is called the battery. Once the electrodes are implanted, then a wire attached to the lead (also called an electrode) runs through the head, neck, and shoulder under the skin to the chest area where it attaches to the pacemaker device.

When a patient is undergoing deep brain stimulation surgery they should stay awake because a doctor is constantly testing them throughout their surgery to make sure the lead in exactly the right spot. Not all deep brain stimulation surgeries are done with the patient awake but there are fewer risks involved if the patient is awake. Some side effects a patient might have after undergoing the surgery are seizures, infections, headaches, confusion, difficulty concentrating, a stroke, hardware complications, such as an eroded lead wire, and temporary pain and swelling at the implantation site.

Deep brain stimulation can be performed on each side of the brain for symptoms affecting each side of the body. In a video, I watched this man named Harry Hahn who had tremors on both sides of his body and so the year before the video was made he had gotten his first deep brain stimulation surgery so that the tremors on the right side of his body would stop. Harry said in the video that surgery changed his life because he was able to do more of the everyday things that he couldn’t before. But his left side was still being affected by the tremors so he decided to have his second surgery for that side as well.

Deep brain stimulation is also being studied as a potential treatment for many more things like addiction, chronic pain, major depression, Huntington’s disease, stroke recovery, Tourette syndrome, and more.

Electroconvulsive therapy is a medical treatment mostly used for patients with severe depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder. This treatment is mostly used when nothing else is helping the patient. Electroconvulsive therapy is when a patient is put under anesthesia and then electrodes are put on the patient's head and a current is applied and brings a brief seizure in the patient's brain. Electroconvulsive therapy has proven to be effective in most patients.

Just like most medical procedures Electroconvulsive therapy has risks too. ECT has been associated with difficulty learning and short-term memory loss. The same risks for general anesthesia apply for Electroconvulsive therapy too. Some patients experience nausea, fatigue, headaches, and confusion.

In a video, I watched there was a man named John Wyatt and he was a war veteran and he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and struggled with suicidal thoughts. He felt like he didn’t want to live anymore and was very depressed and nothing was helping him, but like he said ECT made him feel like he wanted to live again.

Electroconvulsive Therapy has a high success rate and usually, most patients see some sort of positive change. ECT is still developing and it will keep developing and advancing so that it can help even more people will be helped. ECT is an effective treatment because it helps those who feel hopeless and like nothing else has worked for them.

Virtual reality is a simulated experience that can be similar to a real-world experience or completely different from our real world. Virtual reality is a new technique for helping with depression. Many people who suffer from depression don’t enjoy the exciting or positive events in life, so the patients are shown some exhilarating and enjoyable experiences in the virtual reality headset. Virtual reality is unlike other treatments for depression because other techniques help with the negative like hopelessness, sadness, and anxiety. But these other treatments don’t help with the lack of positive feeling that some of the patients experience.

Another way that virtual reality is helping patients with depression is called “embodiment.” Embodiment is an experience where the patient watches themselves in the virtual reality headset. They listen to themselves say soothing words of comfort. This technique works because it helps depressed patients feel less critical and more compassionate toward themselves. In virtual reality that the patients were two scenarios that played out in the virtual reality. First, the patients were embodied in an adult avatar, the patients were trained to treat the distressed child with compassion. The child then began to respond positively to compassion and slowly stop crying. Secondly, the patient was embodied in the virtual child avatar, and then experienced what it was like to get compassion. The whole virtual experience took 8 minutes and is repeated three times at weekly intervals.

In this experiment of virtual reality, it was proven effective on the patients that it was tested on. About 60% of the patients that tried out this virtual reality, embodiment technique, saw a reduction in depressive symptoms.

Many current neuroscience techniques help many patients who are struggling with various things. I learned that everyone is different, and has different brains so there isn't one cure for depression or anxiety. So different techniques work for different people, so one person might respond to medication but another might have to try something else to get better. And as technology advances and scientists learn more about the brain there will be even more neuroscience techniques that are more effective than the ones we have now.

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