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Now, a tool to track real-time chemical changes in brain

Press Trust of India  |  Washington 

Mayo Clinic researchers who developed the new tool said the idea behind their research is to monitor neurochemicals in the brain and adjust them to appropriate levels during DSB.

"We can learn what neurochemicals can be released by DBS, neurochemical stimulation, or other stimulation. We can basically learn how the brain works," said lead study author Su-Youne Chang of the Mayo Clinic Neurosurgery Department.

As researchers better understand how the brain works, they can predict changes, and respond before those changes disrupt brain functioning, he noted.

Researchers, who detailed their study in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings, observed the real-time changes of the neurotransmitter adenosine in the brains of tremor patients undergoing deep brain stimulation. Neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin are chemicals that transmit signals from a neuron to a target cell across a synapse.

They 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 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.

Tremors are a visual cue that the technique is working; researchers suspect adenosine plays a role in reducing tremors. They hoped to learn more about conditions without such external manifestations.

"We can't watch pain as we do tremors," said Kendall Lee, a Mayo Clinic neurosurgeon. "What is exciting about this electrochemical feedback is that we can monitor the brain without external feedback. So now, we can monitor neurochemicals in the brain and learn about brain processes like pain," Lee added. (More)

First Published: Mon, July 16 2012. 16:06 IST