Monday, November 17, 2008

It DOES take a brain Surgeon (Part 2)

In our last thrilling installment, the armchair expert parried the question "How does DBS work?" by referring to a helpful diagram, which you can find a couple of posts down. We now resume where we left off...

Q: You call that helpful?

Hey, I'm doing my best here. I'd like to give you a better answer, but nobody knows why it works. Here's one theory: As one part of the neural communication network in our brain sends out fewer, fainter signals that say "MOVE" other parts of the brain that specialize in "STOP!" interpret the absence of "GO!" messages as a signal that "Stop!" is the agenda, and steps on the metaphorical brake pedal.

This dutiful but misguided part of the brain is the part targeted by the surgeon when the leads are implanted. The leads, in a sort of tiny replication of the Milgram experiment, zap the offending part of the brain with a jolt of electricity to discourage the hyperactivity. This enables freer movement, and subtly perfumes the air with the delicate odor of fried brain cells, which remind some people of bacon browning.

Q: EW!

A: OK, I made that last part up.

Right. How about another theory?

Here's a simpler one from my friend Alec, broadly paraphrased. "The electrical charger creates noise in an overzealous section of the brain, impeding its operation" I think of this as similar to the "Beseiging-The-Bad-Guy-With-rock music-at-Painful-Volume" strategy our military used to force Gen. Noriega out of his diplomatically protected sanctuary back in the previous century.

Are you sure PD is your only problem?

A: I'll overlook that and offer one more explanation in diagram C. (BELOW)

(To be continued.)

No comments: