Deep brain stimulation: A wonder treatment pushed too far?
来源：未知 作者：仲孙罐 时间：2017-07-08 06:01:24
By Andy Ridgway A REVOLUTION in neuroscience seems to be under way. It has allowed a 13-year-old autistic boy to speak for the first time. It has freed people with Tourette’s from physical tics so severe that they broke bones. It has stopped people with obesity from overeating and prevented those with anorexia from eating too little. The revolutionary therapy is deep brain stimulation, a treatment that uses electrodes implanted in the brain to bring problematic behaviours under control. It established its bona fides by releasing people with Parkinson’s disease from some of its most debilitating symptoms, and over the past decade or so the range of mind and brain disorders for which it has been used has been widening steadily. Its dramatic successes have led to calls to extend its use still further, perhaps even to curb paedophilic or psychopathic desires (see “The off-switch for desire“). Recently, however, this wonder treatment has been dealt a grievous blow. Two failed clinical trials have left neuroscientists at an impasse about how widely the treatment should be used, and brought ethical questions from the periphery into the spotlight. As surgeries go, deep brain stimulation is fairly straightforward. A rigid frame is attached to the patient’s head, and then two holes are drilled into the skull. Through these, the surgeon pushes two metal electrodes, each about the diameter of a piece of spaghetti, to the region of the brain responsible for the symptoms. “Stick a knitting needle through a piece of butter and it’s exactly the same feeling,” says Thomas Schläpfer,