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Brain Implant Reduces OCD Symptoms

A pacemaker-like brain implant used in a Dutch study appears to reduce severe obsessive-compulsive disorder symptoms.

An experimental pacemaker-like device appeared to potentially reduce severe obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) symptoms in a recent study. Researchers at Amsterdam's Academic Medical Center used an implanted deep-brain stimulator on test subjects with severe OCD; functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) images taken afterwards strongly implied that symptoms were reduced when the stimulator was turned on. "In OCD, when patients are engaged in unhealthy behaviors, they can’t do anything else, they are continuously washing their hands at the cost of all other normal behaviors, for example," Martjin Figee of the Academic Medical Center told the MIT Technology Review. According to Figee, the implants can successfully curtail those behaviors to a degree.

The Amsterdam study was experimental and numerous technical and bureaucratic obstacles exist before a similar product can reach the mass market.

[Image: Flickr user Hey Paul Studios]

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