Testing brain pacemakers to zap Alzheimer’s damage

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_The Toronto researchers have teamed with four U.S. medical centers _ Johns Hopkins University, the University of Pennsylvania, University of Florida and Arizona’s Banner Health System _ to try DBS in a part of the brain called the fornix, one of those memory hubs, in 40 patients. Half will have their electrodes turned on two weeks after the operation and the rest in a year, an attempt to spot any placebo effect from surgery.

_At Ohio State, Rezai is implanting the electrodes into a different spot, the frontal lobes, that his own DBS work suggests could tap into cognition and behavior pathways. That study will enroll 10 participants including Sanford.

Surgery back in October was Sanford’s first step. Then it was time to fine-tune how the electrodes fire. She took problem-solving tests while neurologist Scharre adjusted the voltage and frequency and watched her reactions.

Sanford was cheered to see her test scores climb a bit during those adjustments. She said she knows there are no guarantees, but “if we can beat some of this stuff, or at least get a leading edge on it, I’m in for the whole deal.”

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