A patient, during a brain stimulation test at the Migraine Adaptive Brain Center in Barcelona.Mar Sifre
In the fight against Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, schizophrenia and other diseases characterized by an imbalance in neuronal activity, there are chemical weapons, such as that try to prevent the protein fragments known as beta-amyloid plaques from developing in the cerebral cortex, and physical, such as electrical stimulation that allow the functionality of brain cells to be restored. This last resort, which has already been shown to be effective in modifying the activity of the cerebral cortex, is today a weapon of general intervention. Converting it to precision requires the development of individualized and predictive brain models that allow identifying where and how much to stimulate each patient. To achieve this, an international team, with Spanish participation, is working on the creation of virtual replicas of the most unknown organ in the body: the Neurotwin project .__ P__ Javier Márquez, principal investigator at the Translational Brain Stimulation Laboratory of the Pablo de Olavide University (Seville) , explains that the decrease in power in the neuronal oscillations of the gamma band of the cerebral cortex (a pattern whose frequency ranges between 20 and 50 hertz) favors the development of protein fragments related to Alzheimer’s. “In mice models of this disease [ optogenetic ] pulses of light have been applied that have restored the oscillations to 40 hertz and reduced the beta-amyloid plaques,” he says .__ P__ According to the researcher, the transcranial application of weak electrical currents has been shown to be an effective and painless way to modulate brain activity without side effects. There are companies that already develop technology to administer these therapies, which would be cheap and accessible for the outpatient setting. The main problem is to control where the electrical stimulation flows and with what intensity, as well as its consequences in the different neuronal types. Until now, the effect of this form of therapy is variable in each person and it is necessary to create a model of each brain to know where and how much stimulation is necessary .__ P__ The Neuroelectrics company, the Pablo de Olavide, Pompeu Fabra and Upsala (Sweden), as well as the German IfADo institute, the Beth Israel center and the Italian Santa Lucia foundation. The objective is to create complete computational models of the brain with real data of living beings (mice and human patients) and that allow to anticipate and specify the effects of non-invasive stimulation techniques on neurological mechanisms .__ P__
The first phase of the research aims to determine the relationship between electric fields and neuronal response to later specify how this is produced in the different layers of the cerebral cortex
The first phase of the research aims to determine the relationship between electric fields and the neuronal response to later specify how this is produced in the different layers of the cerebral cortex. “It’s a good chance. The development of custom computational models could drive the emergence of new ideas in basic neuroscience, reduce uncertainty in diagnosis, and optimize the application of various therapeutic tools. This is an important step in neuroscience and neuropsychiatry “, highlights Márquez, one of the main researchers of the international team that has obtained almost five million euros from the FET Proactive research program .__ P__ The risk of manipulation
” As in all the fields of science ”, as Javier Márquez admits, the development of techniques that allow the manipulation of the brain response has the risk of being used for non-therapeutic uses. Rafael Yuste, a Spanish neuroscientist and professor at Columbia University (USA), has promoted the Brain initiative, to regulate the use of technology capable of seeing and altering our minds. Chile has been the first country to open the process to include neuro-rights in the Constitution .__ P__ The Neurotwin team has not forgotten about this prevention and the Swedish team from the University of Uppsala is in charge of ensuring transparency and ethical uses of these virtual replicas . An advance that, just as it can improve learning processes, can also interfere with freedom of thought and induce responses, for example, for military or commercial purposes .__ P__ An effective tool
Richard Betzel, a neuroscientist at Indiana University, shares the advantages of computational replications. “Brain models give us a new perspective that adds clarity to what we already know about how it works,” says Betzel, lead author of a new study published in Nature Neuroscience. where he highlights the possibilities of these tools for diagnosis or as biomarkers for certain disorders .__ P__ His team, as reported by Indiana University, has built a new model of human brain networks that sheds light on how the brain works. The model offers a new tool for exploring individual differences in brain networks, which is critical for classifications of brain disorders and diseases, as well as for understanding human behavior and cognitive abilities. You can also observe the different brain structures (cells, cell groups or specific regions) and the continuous and overlapping series of “conversations” between those structures, which are tracked to a more precise time scale .__ P__ You can follow MATERIA on Facebook , Twitter , Instagram or subscribe here to our newsletter
Impulses that reduce tremors
A study coordinated by researchers from the Cajal Institute of the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) has shown that synchronized, applied electrical stimulation of intramus With pathological tremor, it leads to a reduction in involuntary wrist movements of up to 32%. The researchers noted not only the decrease in tremor but also, for the first time, the maintenance of this improvement after 24 hours. This project seeks to establish the bases to develop devices with the ability to interact with the nervous system and thus mitigate tremor caused by neurological disorders such as essential tremor or Parkinson’s disease, reports the CSIC. Essential tremor is the movement disorder with the highest prevalence in the world population. About 4.5% of people over 65 years of age suffer from this disease characterized by involuntary movements in the upper half of the body. It is a disease with no known cause or cure. The research has been published in the journal IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering and is part of the European Project EXTEND, funded by the European Union, coordinated by the CSIC and developed in collaboration with the Hospital General Universitario Gregorio Marañón in Madrid, the Universitat Pompeu Fabra de Barcelona, the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany and Imperial College London.