Scientific discovery could help treat people suffering from addictions

Scientific discovery could help treat people suffering from addictions
Scientific discovery could help treat people suffering from addictions

Por the first time, a research team from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL) has succeeded in deeply stimulating the human brain in a non-invasive way, without surgery or implants. This new technique could help better treat certain pathologies such as addictions, notes UCLouvain on Wednesday in a press release, of which a postdoctoral fellow co-directed the study.

Although it was already possible to deeply stimulate the human brain, only invasive means had been used until now. The new technique is based on “electrical stimulation by transcranial temporal interference” or “tTIS”. This involves diffusing weak electric fields inside the brain via two pairs of electrodes attached to the scalp, explains Pierre Vassiliadis, lead author of the article and postdoctoral researcher at UCLouvain and EPFL.

One pair of electrodes was set at a frequency of 2,000 hertz and the other at 2,080 Hz. The electrodes are positioned so that the signals cross in the striatum, a deep region of the brain that controls several important cognitive functions, explains the UCLouvain. This area also plays a role in various neurological and psychiatric pathologies.

In the target area, the stimulation frequency becomes 80 Hz, the difference between the frequencies of the two electrodes. This low level allows you to focus only on the targeted region: the striatum.

“Until now, we were unable to specifically target these regions with non-invasive techniques, because the low-level electric fields stimulated all regions between the skull and deeper areas, making treatments ineffective,” explains Pierre Vassiliadis. , quoted in the press release. “This new approach allows us to selectively stimulate deep brain regions that play a role in neuropsychiatric disorders. »

For the authors of the study, the success of this experiment carries “immense” therapeutic potential. “People suffering from addiction, for example, tend to show excessive approach behavior towards certain rewards. Our method could reduce this pathological exaggeration,” illustrates Mr. Vassiliadis.

To confirm this hypothesis, clinical studies must still be carried out to verify whether the technique is indeed effective in the treatment of these disorders.

The study also discovered that stimulating the striatum at 80 Hz could disrupt its normal functioning and directly influence the learning process, “essentially the way we learn through rewards,” continues Pierre Vassiliadis.

The study was published in the scientific journal Natural Human Behavior.

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