Parkinson’s Disease and Deep Brain Stimulation – Good Idea or Not?

Neuroscience_Neurology.jpgThere is a lot of buzz in the science literature about Deep Brain Stimulation, most recently a nicely written December 2005 correspondence reply article in the Journal of the American Medical Association entitled, “What Is Deep Brain Stimulation “Failure” and How Do We Manage Our Own Failures?” However, thanks to our fellow Brain Blogger “Always Learning,” I found the most interesting article of the last half-decade to be an excerpt from a speech made by the neurosurgeon Dr. Andreas Lozano, speaking on the theme I think that you will be impressed with his humorous and almost poetic delivery while speaking on the topic “Envisioning a New Century of Breakthroughs.” Take a look at the article and put in your two-euro worth in this roundtable.


  • Anonymous

    I am quite flattered that people even thought what I wrote was even worthwhile to read. I must say that deep brain stimulation is something that I have had inner debates about.

    First, I must state one thing. Psychiatrists are medical doctors who choose to specialize in the mental area. They write the prescriptions because they understand how the body works. They make diagnoses.

    Neurologists are those who deal with the anatomy and function of the brain. They read fMRIs, PET scans, etc… They conduct tests to help diagnose neurological disorders such as Parkinsons’, brain tumors, strokes, dementia, etc…

    In terms of deep brain stimulation (DBS), it is a neurosurgeon who places the nodes on the brain. Like any body part, the mind takes a team of specialists to help the patient.

    Regarding DBS, one part of me thinks that is a miracle. Imagine no longer having uncontrollable crying jags or wondering when the next depressive episode will occur. Imagine knowing that there will never be a time when living is too hard and sleep is the only respite from a psychological pain that is too great for your mind to bear.

    Aside from that, depression affects your memory, language, ability to track thoughts and words and to construct a verbal sentence.

    DBS may rid all of that. It has been proven to stop the tremors that are symptomatic of Parkinsons’, along with other mind boggling results. It is approved by the FDA for Parkinsons’.

    If it so great, then why do I have waiver philosophically about it?

    In some degree, if DBS is as great as it promises to be, it may literaly rid many neurological problems. Clinical trials are under way currently for OCD.

    But what about natural selection? As the saying goes, “one should not mess with Mother Nature…”. Any clinician would argue that the flu vaccine changes natural selection or insuling for diabetics.

    While I would chose to use it if I needed it, at some level, I suppose I wonder because it alters my brain chemistry… and therefore everything about me… my perceptions, my emotions, etc… at some level the thought would occur – – is this still me or am I now partially someone else?


    Always Learning

  • Doubter

    Hey Always Learning,
    What did you mean by saying “any physician would argue that the flu vaccine changes natural selection”?
    Thank you,

  • Anonymous

    Hi… Sorry it took so long for me to write. My mom died unexpectedly so I have been dealing with funerals and all that…ironic, speaking of natural selection.

    Regarding the flu vaccine and natural selection, natural selection is basically survival of the fittest. Those who are weak, do not survive. We see this in all forms of life.

    Okay – – so we know that the weak die young and we know that this is sorta of designed in order to ensure the strong will survive and continue the species.

    So… how does the flu vaccine fit in? Every year, the flu shot comes out. Every year, an advisory states to not get the vaccine until those who need it the most, have it. The groups that qualify as needing it the most are the young, the elderly, those with a immunosuppresent illness or disease, those with respiratory problems, etc…

    These are people who have a higher chance of dying from the flu than others. They are the weak in natural selection.

    Because the flu vaccine enables many to live instead of dying, the weak is not weeded out as they were in past times.

    The same, of course, can be said about antibiotics in terms of defeating death and illness. My grandmother had many wives tales of things not to do because she lost many friends and relatives to infection. One that I will not forget is that one of our relatives died from a heel blister. The blister became infected and since there was no neosporin or penicillin, the person died. My favorite is never pluck your eyebrows because you will die if you do. Of course, that came from my grandmother who knew someone who plucked her eyebrows and sure enough, a space where a brow follicle used to be became infected and yes, she died.

    Now a days that would not happen.

    But that is what I meant. The flu vaccine protects the weak from dying but in natural selection, the weak are meant to die – – not to live.

    This maybe one reason why there seems to be a flu pandemic of outrageous proportions every century (?) or so. It is a means to restore natural order.

    I hope you better understand what I meant. Before I leave, while, I still believe that most clinicians would admit that the flu vaccine and other medicines changes natural selection, I was, without a doubt, too free and easy with my words.

    I have not asked every clinician his or her thoughts and I should have rephrased my wording. I apologize. I could also be very wrong in my assumption, if I am, I apologize as well.


    Always Learning

    Always Learning

  • Anonymous

    Hello Always Learning,
    Thanks for the flu shot explanation. I must say that I never quite thought of it that way. In that respect, I guess that any technological advancement upsets natural selection, especially the medical ones huh? For example, EKG machines, sterile fields, etc.. Or am I taking this too far?

Tony Brown, BA, EMT

Tony Brown, BA, EMT, graduated cum laude from Harvard University. He served as an EMT in the US Army stationed in Germany.

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