Could Electrical Brain Stimulation Boost Perseverance?12/05/13
THURSDAY, Dec. 5, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- Electrical
stimulation of a specific area of the brain may help boost a
person's ability to get through tough times, according to a tiny
Researchers implanted electrodes in the brains of two people
with epilepsy to learn about the source of their seizures. The
electrodes were situated in the part of the brain known as the
"anterior midcingulate cortex." This region is believed to be
involved in emotions, pain and decision-making.
When an electrical charge was delivered within this region, both
patients said they experienced the expectation of an imminent
challenge. Not only that, they also felt a determination to conquer
the challenge. At the same time, their heart rate increased and
they experienced physical sensations in the chest and neck.
The patients did not feel any of these effects when brain
regions only 5 millimeters away were electrically stimulated. Nor
did patients feel these effects when they were told their brains
were being stimulated but they did not receive an electrical
charge, according to the study.
The findings were published online Dec. 5 in the journal
"That few electrical pulses delivered to a population of brain cells in conscious human individuals give rise to such a high level set of emotions and thoughts we associate with a human virtue such as perseverance tells us that our unique human qualities are anchored dearly in the operation of our brain cells," study lead author Dr. Josef Parvizi said in a journal news release.
The site of the stimulation in both patients was at the core of
a network linking the anterior midcingulate cortex to other brain
regions, imaging studies found.
This suggests that variations in the structure and function of
this network may be linked with differences in people's abilities
to cope with difficult situations, according to the news
"These innate differences might potentially be identified in childhood and be modified by behavioral therapy, medication, or, as suggested here, electrical stimulation," said Parvizi, who is with the department of neurology and neurological sciences at Stanford University.
The American Academy of Family Physicians offers tips for
coping with life's challenges.
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