BOSTON — Obsessive compulsive disorder can be disruptive to the lives of patients along with their family friends. But there may be a new, painless treatment that could put an end to the frustrating condition. According to new research, those who suffer from OCD or even related conditions like gambling or shopping addiction could potentially be cured by “zapping” their brains.
The non-invasive technique targets the orbitofrontal cortex, an area of gray matter that slows up in people with addictions. Neurons control behavior, and firing them up with small jolts of electricity stopped the research participants’ cravings.
Study corresponding author Dr. Robert Reinhart, an assistant professor of psychological and brain sciences at Boston University, believes it could treat a range of compulsive disorders. The uncontrollable urges can be life-threatening, leading to obesity, substance abuse, or financial ruin. “The results suggest it may be possible to non-invasively and electrically impede brain activity and behaviors that are undesirable to help people who are ‘stuck’ in a particular mode of functioning as is the case with obsessions and compulsions,” Reinhart says in a university release.
Breanna Bullard, a Graduate Student Research Assistant in the Reinhart Laboratory, is shown obtaining 3D coordinates of each electrode position in the cap worn by study volunteer Eleni Kouvaras prior to conducting a noninvasive electrical brain stimulation experiment. (Credit: Reinhart Lab)
Called “high-definition transcranial alternating current stimulation” or HD-tACS, the new brain modulation involves placing electrodes on a patient’s …….