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European grant for Birte Forstmann to create an atlas of the Human Deep Brain

Deep-brain stimulation (DBS) is the most promising surgical treatment for movement and neuropsychiatric disorders, but is accompanied by unwanted side effects. Birte Forstmann, professor by special appointment, has been awarded a ERC Proof of Concept Grant to create an atlas of the human deep brain so side-effects can be reduced.

ERC proof of concept grant

Because it is thought that the unwanted side-effects of Deep-brain stimulation (DBS) surgery is caused by the stimulation of the wrong brain areas, Birte Forstmann wanted to make an atlas of the human brain. She applied to the European Research Council (ERC) for a ERC Proof of Concept grant, only hands out to research projects which results might have commercial or societal potential. With the grant, worth €150.000, Forstmann can explore if the unwanted side effects are the result of  the stimulation of subareas other than the motor zone within subcortical nuclei, the stimulation of white matter connections, or the dysregulation of blood flow to neighboring areas.

Deep-brain stimulation (DBS) surgery, a procedure in which a microelectrode is lowered deep into the brain with the aim to stimulate small subcortical nuclei, has been proven to be one of the most succesful merhods to alleviate disease related symptoms such as rigidity and tremor as seen in patients with movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and neuropsychiatric diseases such as obsessive compulsive disorder. However, the placement of electrodes in the brain is accompied with several risks. Suboptimal placement can yield unpleasant side-effects such a cognitive changes (changes in response inhibition, attention, mental speed) and can cause a shift in affective state (anxiety, hallucinations, depression, hypomania and/or hypersexuality).

Resource: University of Amsterdam

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