The possibility has arisen that scientists may begin to diagnose Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Through Brain Signals. This study was also published in Nature Medicine. Scientists have been able to observe the brain activity associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) in greater detail than ever before. If these neural signals can be identified, this study leads us to the conclusion that we are not so helpless in the face of patients. Detection of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is among the topics that are frequently discussed in the medical world.
OCD can affect up to two people in every 100 adults.
What is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental and behavioral disorder in which a person has disturbing thoughts and/or feels the need to repeat certain routines to the extent that they cause distress or impair general functioning.
As the name of the disorder suggests, the primary symptoms of OCD are obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are persistent unwanted thoughts, mental images, or impulses that create feelings of anxiety, disgust, or restlessness. Common obsessions include fear of contagion, obsession with symmetry, and intrusive thoughts about religion, sex, and harm.
Compulsions are repetitive actions or routines that occur in response to obsessions. Common compulsions include excessive handwashing, cleaning, arranging, counting, reassurance-seeking, and checking things out. Many adults with OCD realize that their compulsions don't make sense, but they still perform them to relieve the distress caused by the obsessions. Compulsions occur so frequently that they typically last at least an hour a day and impair a person's quality of life.
If we go back to our article;
While a variety of behavioral treatments and medications are available, it's estimated that 25-40 percent of those with OCD see no sustained benefit from them. The disorder can include behaviors that affect daily life, cause distress and are disturbing.
In the study, five volunteers with severe OCD were followed throughout their daily lives, both in the laboratory and at home.
The study's data consisted of facial expressions, body movements, heart rate, and self-reported OCD symptom intensity, as well as measures of brain activity.
This suite of information, collected in real time, allowed the researchers to detect associations between behavioral activity and signals in the brain. Although the sample size for the experiment was only small, it marked the path to a potentially new therapeutic area.
"This is the first time that brain signals from participants with neuropsychiatric disease have been chronically recorded in home conditions," says biomedical engineer Nicole Provenza of Brown University.
“Using these brain signals, we can distinguish between when someone is experiencing OCD symptoms and when they are not. This technique made it possible to record this diversity of behavior and brain activity.” Devices used to plot brain activity can also provide brain simulation.
Known as deep brain stimulation or DBS devices, they use implanted electrodes to trigger certain electrical stimulation patterns in the brain.
DBS has provided some clues as a way to treat OCD, especially in people who have not responded to other measures. However, DBS also has limitations in that it cannot adapt easily or quickly as symptoms change.
These symptoms currently provide a fixed level of alert that can only be adjusted by physicians.
Part of the thinking behind this new work would be to work with an adaptive DBS system that could be even more effective.
Ultimately, the goal is to create adaptive DBS devices that can change the electrical impulses that patients give in response to biomarkers without the need to continue visiting the doctor.
Applying treatment only when symptoms are at their worst will potentially limit side effects such as headache and difficulty concentrating.
"OCD is a disorder in which symptom severity is highly variable over time and may be elicited by triggers in the environment," says biomedical engineer David Borton of Brown University.
“A DBS system that can adjust stimulation intensity in response to symptoms can provide greater relief and fewer side effects for patients. But to enable this technology, we must first identify biomarkers in the brain associated with OCD symptoms. We are trying to do this in our work.”
He notes that while the team was also able to identify brain patterns potentially linked to OCD, they are still in the early stages.
“It is not yet clear what or how these signals might mean. But now we know it's an idea worth exploring.”
Future research will need more participants and more information gathered over a longer period of time, the researchers say. For example, daily exercise would be a useful data point not included in this particular study.
Studies can reveal how OCD takes control of the brain and shed light on how the effects of the disorder can be alleviated.
"Our goal is to understand what these brain recordings are telling us and train the device to recognize certain patterns associated with certain symptoms," says neuroscientist Sameer Sheth of Baylor College of Medicine in Texas.
“The better we understand the neural signatures of health and disease, the better our chances of using DBS to successfully treat challenging brain disorders like OCD.”