Deep brain stimulation improves autistic boy's symptoms | Science News


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Deep brain stimulation improves autistic boy's symptoms

Surgically implanted electrodes could treat severe cases of the syndrome

10:20pm, January 25, 2013

Electrodes implanted deep in the brain of a boy with severe autism have enabled him to live a more normal life. The treatment reduced his destructive behavior and allowed the formerly nonverbal boy to speak a few words, scientists report online January 21 in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.

The results are the first to use brain stimulation to alleviate symptoms of autism.  Scientists caution that interpreting the results broadly is impossible without larger, systematic studies, but even so neurosurgeon Ali Rezai of the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus calls the boy's gains “intriguing and promising.”

Researchers have become increasingly interested in deep brain stimulation, a technique in which surgically implanted electrodes act as brain pacemakers. For the last two decades, deep brain stimulation has found use treating movement disorders such as the tremors that accompany Parkinson’s disease (

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