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Can a Side of the Brain Determine Sick or Sane?

Image: Courtesy of Alvaro Pascual-Leone DEPRESSION AND CEREBRAL ACTIVITY: Cerebral blood flow determined by single-photon emission tomography was correlated with changes in clinical depression after patients received transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to the left prefrontal cortex. In red areas, blood flow--signifying brain activity--was positively correlated with TMS's antidepressant effect; in green areas, blood flow was negatively correlated. (Reprinted with permission, Psychiatry

Douglas Steinberg
Image: Courtesy of Alvaro Pascual-Leone
 DEPRESSION AND CEREBRAL ACTIVITY: Cerebral blood flow determined by single-photon emission tomography was correlated with changes in clinical depression after patients received transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to the left prefrontal cortex. In red areas, blood flow--signifying brain activity--was positively correlated with TMS's antidepressant effect; in green areas, blood flow was negatively correlated. (Reprinted with permission, Psychiatry Research Neuroimaging, 115:1-14, 2002.)

Several years ago, Alvaro Pascual-Leone, an associate professor of neurology and neuroscience at Harvard Medical School, decided on a seemingly bizarre approach to studying people with medication-resistant depression. He asked his subjects to wear goggles that restricted sight to either the right or left visual field. He wanted to alleviate their depression with transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), and he had a hunch that the goggles might signal which brain hemisphere to treat with this experimental therapy to ensure the greatest clinical benefits.

The goggle...

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