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Nature study explores the relationship between structure and functional impairments in the human brain

Feb 22, 2024

Integrating Deep Brain Stimulation and Brain Connectomics to map dysfunctional circuits in the frontal cortex

Frontal circuits are vital for our motor, cognitive, and emotional functions. When these circuits malfunction, they can lead to a range of brain disorders. In a recent study led by Dr. Andreas Horn, researchers, including CNTR faculty members, examined 534 deep brain stimulation electrodes implanted in patients with four different brain disorders. By analyzing the connections that were modulated to achieve optimal therapeutic response, they were able to pinpoint the specific frontal circuits implicated in each disorder. In dystonia, dysfunctional circuits extended from occipital to frontal regions, involving interconnections with sensorimotor cortices. Tourette's syndrome showed involvement of the primary motor cortex, while Parkinson's disease affected the supplementary motor area. Obsessive-compulsive disorder, on the other hand, implicated ventromedial prefrontal and anterior cingulate cortices.

This study marks a significant advancement in our understanding of brain disorders, highlighting the power of integrating deep brain stimulation with brain connectomics—the mapping of brain connections—to unravel the complexities of brain structure and function. By identifying specific circuits associated with different disorders, researchers have taken a crucial step toward targeted interventions and personalized treatments for patients. This work both deepens our understanding of the brain's intricate workings, and also opens new avenues for developing more effective therapies for a range of neurological and psychiatric conditions. 

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