Effective new target for mood-boosting brain stimulation found

on 01 December 2018
At the end of the day, it is the front of the brain, that matters

At the front of your head, just above your eyes, is one of the most important parts of our human selves, a part of the brain called the orbitofrontal cortex. In some sense, it is the part of you, that makes you "You," in terms of our humanness, it is the difference that makes each of us; different. Therapy aims to help us differentiate that difference . . . 

Could this be your mind's eye region?

The orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) is, perhaps, the area of the brain that most specifically defines us as humans. It is involved, inter alia, in our executive functions, decisions, judgments and our ability to differentiate between new and old experiences, e.g. comparing a new app against the old one or the changing dynamics of work or relationships. It is also known to keep our emotional centres in check. However, when the defence system kicks in, the powerful stress hormones begin to inhibit OFC function and management. The evolutionary logic being, when you are being threatened, you need to fight or run; not analyse! Under normal, real-life/death or threatening situations (eustress), these systems operate very efficiently but when we are responding to fake or illusory threatening situations (modern life situations) we potentially become chronically stressed (distress).

Relating this to hypnosis: this research makes perfect sense because hypnotherapy creates a collateral relaxation effect (which is separate from the psychotherapeutic intervention) and it is this relaxation that diminishes the deleterious effect of stress hormones on the brain. Stress can thus be defined as the absence of relaxation and relaxation, the absence of stress. This, of course, only addresses one side of the therapeutic objective, it is, without doubt, very important to re-establish normal, perhaps supernormal, brain function because it is in this advanced state of mind that the hypnotherapeutic intervention does its magic. This by no means defines hypnosis as a magic trick, it merely relates to the inexplicable way in which hypnosis works and how clients often describe their transformation!

Hypnosis, therefore, has the potential to stimulate orbitofrontal cortex stimulation, stimulation that has the power to help you change the way your brain works. It does this by removing the subconscious processing that maintains the presence of stress hormones and replaces it with the apparent normalisation of the orbitofrontal cortex! In order to function well, we need to get our ego, our intelligence and our logical self out of the way The closer we get to our inner self, the easier it becomes, to discover our true self!

Hypnotherapy stands out as one of the most effective strategic life management methods there is, especially, in its ability to promote clear thinking and good states of mental wellness. The behaviours that make life challenging are often a result of too much stress, too little sleep and too little by way of clarity! So, to take back control of your mind and your life, it makes perfect sense to use a methodology that addresses the subconscious mind's role in perpetuating negative, vague and ambiguous states of mind. Hypnosis helps us to create calm and relaxing states of mind that make life work better! If you would like to address any concerns you have in this direction, or, if you just want to make your life feel better,  then why not make an appointment for a Free Consultation? Hypnosis gives you the ability to have a good life!

The objective here is to help people understand how and why we become illogically trapped into irrational emotional experiences that may actually be happening for reasons different to that which we would imagine! If you want to know more about how Hypnotherapy can help you; why not make an appointment for a Free Consultation?

For more information on the Free Consultation - Go Here Or, to book your Free Consultation today, you can do so here

The Research: 

Researchers have found an effective target in the brain for electrical stimulation to improve mood in people suffering from depression. As reported in the journal Current Biology on November 29, stimulation of a brain region called the lateral orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) reliably produced acute improvement in mood in patients who suffered from depression at the start of the study.

Those effects were not seen in patients without mood symptoms, suggesting that the brain stimulation works to normalise activity in mood-related neural circuitry, the researchers say.

"Stimulation induced a pattern of activity in brain regions connected to OFC that was similar to patterns seen when patients naturally experienced positive mood states," says Vikram Rao, of the University of California, San Francisco. "Our findings suggest that OFC is a promising new stimulation target for the treatment of mood disorders."

The team led by Rao and Kristin Sellers in the lab of Edward Chang studied 25 patients with epilepsy who had electrodes placed in the brain for medical reasons to pinpoint the origin of their seizures. Many of those patients also suffered from depression, which is often seen in people with epilepsy. With the patients' consent, Chang's team took advantage of those electrodes to deliver small electrical pulses to areas of the brain thought to be involved in regulating mood.

Previous studies have explored deep brain stimulation (DBS) for mood disorders, but its success depends critically on target selection. Targets in other mood-related areas deep in the brain hadn't always led to reliable improvements.

In the new study, the researchers focused their attention and the electrical stimulation on the OFC. The OFC is a key hub for mood-related circuitry. But it's also widely regarded as one of the least well-understood brain regions.

"Although OFC is a more superficial target, it shares rich interconnections with several brain regions implicated in emotion processing," Sellers says. That made this relatively small brain area an attractive target for therapeutic stimulation.

The researchers used the implanted electrodes to stimulate OFC and other brain regions while collecting verbal mood reports and questionnaire scores. Those studies found that unilateral stimulation of the lateral OFC produced acute, dose-dependent mood-state improvement in subjects with moderate-to-severe baseline depression. The changes in brain activity the researchers observed after stimulation closely resembled those seen when people are in a good mood.

The findings show that mood can be immediately improved by electrical stimulation of a relatively small area of the brain, the researchers say. They also add to evidence that mood disorders are the result of dysfunction in brain circuits.

The researchers say that plenty of work remains before DBS could enter routine clinical practice. Chang's team is currently exploring whether stimulation of OFC produces durable improvement in mood over longer periods of time. They also hope to develop a medical device for patients with treatment-resistant mood disorders that can monitor brain activity in OFC and stimulate only when needed to keep that activity within a healthy range.

"Ultimately, it would be ideal if activity in mood-related brain circuits could be normalised indefinitely without patients needing to do anything," Rao says.

Story Source:

Materials provided by Cell PressNote: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. Vikram R. Rao, Kristin K. Sellers, Deanna L. Wallace, Morgan B. Lee, Maryam Bijanzadeh, Omid G. Sani, Yuxiao Yang, Maryam M. Shanechi, Heather E. Dawes, Edward F. Chang. Direct Electrical Stimulation of Lateral Orbitofrontal Cortex Acutely Improves Mood in Individuals with Symptoms of DepressionCurrent Biology, 2018; DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2018.10.026

Cite This Page:

Cell Press. "Effective new target for mood-boosting brain stimulation found." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 November 2018. <>.