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Mallet said the area of the brain they targeted -- the subthalamic nucleus -- deals with motion, thinking and emotion. Previous studies for obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD, focused on regions involving mood and anxiety, he said.
"We're still not exactly sure where the sweet spot is in the brain to reduce the symptoms of OCD," said Dr. Wayne Goodman, a psychiatrist at the National Institute of Mental Health. "Even if you think you're in the right neighborhood, you may be one block off. And one block off in the brain may be just 1 millimeter."
Goodman said he was initially alarmed by the serious side effects but noted that many were temporary and others were not unexpected. He said the challenge will be deciding whether the risks are worth it for individual patients.
Another French researcher, Dr. Antoine Pelissolo, said the patients in the study, who now all have their pacemakers turned on, are still being followed. Researchers are also testing stimulating two areas of the brain at the same time, he said.
The pacemakers used in the study were bought from Medtronic Inc., which had no role but paid for the researchers' meetings. Some of the scientists have received consulting fees and grants from Medtronic.
On the Net:
New England Journal: http://www.nejm.org/
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