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"Why A ‘Lifesaving’ Depression Treatment Didn’t Pass Clinical Trials" - David Dobbs

  • The Atlantic
  • New York, NY
  • (April 16, 2018)

Some medical experiments are more daunting than others. The one that Helen Mayberg, MD, director for the center for advanced circuit therapeutics at the Mount Sinai Health System came up with to test a model of depression she had developed over about 15 years, involved drilling two holes in top of a patient’s skull and sliding two low-voltage electrodes deep into the brain until they reached a region known as a Brodmann area 25. Once in place, the electrodes were wired to a battery pack implanted in the patient’s chest and turned on. Today, Dr. Mayberg wants to identify the success factors – variables in patient phenotype, electrode placement, post-surgical support – well enough that they’re refined into a more transferable protocol. “I can’t stop because some people think it’s worthless. My patients tell me these people are wrong. The data tells me they are wrong…This thing isn’t dead,” Dr. Mayberg concluded.

- Helen Mayberg, MD, Senior Faculty, Neurosurgery, Neurology, Psychiatry, Neuroscience, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Director, The Center for Advanced Circuit Therapeutics, Mount Sinai Health System

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