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Joined: 01 Oct 2013
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DC last week they announced that while they saw hippocampal shrinking in four of the volunteers, the region grew in the remaining two participants.


"Not only did the hippocampus not shrink, it got bigger - by 5 per cent in one person and 8 per cent in the other," says Lozano. It's an "amazing" result, he adds.


Tests showed that these two individuals appeared to have better than expected cognitive function, although the other four volunteers did not.


Though Lozano is not sure exactly how the treatment works, his team's suggests that the electrical stimulation might drive the birth of new neurons in the brain. Deep brain stimulation in mice also triggers the production of proteins that encourage neurons to form new connections.


The researchers are now embarking on a trial involving around 50 people, but at Stanford University, California, wonders how practical the approach will be when there are millions of people with Alzheimer's.


Lozano points out that around 90,000 people worldwide with Parkinson's disease have already received deep brain stimulation. The incidence of Alzheimer's is only five times that of Parkinson's, he says. "If it can be used in Parkinson's, it can be used in Alzheimer's."


If you would like [b]to reuse any content[/b] from New Scientist, either in print or online, please [b][/b] department first for permission. New Scientist does not own rights to photos, but there are a available

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