Brain pacemakers show promise in Alzheimer's trials, might open new treatment possibilities

Deep-brain electrical stimulation has been around for a while -- rousing folks from comas and helping researchers find new ways to treat OCD, depression and maybe even obesity. Now doctors are testing the so-called "brain pacemakers," on Alzheimer's patients and the results are promising, but not conclusive. After a year of treatment, six patients showed higher glucose consumption in PET scans of the learning and memory areas of the brain -- a change that is associated with increased neuron activity. Glucose metabolism typically decrease as a result of the disease. Researchers are seeking more patients for the trial, and are optimistic that the technique could one day be used to stave off some of Alzheimer's debilitating symptoms.