Article: Thalamic brain stimulation boosts rat intelligence

From: Neil H. (
Date: Tue Oct 24 2006 - 12:35:23 MDT

It's really too bad that thalamus isn't accessible to TMS...

(I can't seem to find the PNAS reference, so here's the ScienceNOW news article)

"A team led by neurologist and neuroscientist Daniel Herrera at Weill
Medical College of Cornell University in New York City implanted
electrodes into the central thalamus of rats. This brain region is
thought to help mediate arousal and is the region surgeons targeted in
the minimally conscious patient. After stimulating the rats' central
thalamus for 30 minutes, Herrera and colleagues found that two
genes--one linked to neural activity and the other linked to cellular
mechanisms of learning--had become more active in the rats' brains,
including in the cerebral cortex and hippocampus. The stimulated
rodents also explored more than unstimulated rats did and performed
substantially better on an object-recognition test, Herrera and
colleagues report online this week in the Proceedings of the National
Academy of Sciences.

"It's a significant finding," says Rodolfo Llinas, a neuroscientist at
New York University. But don't call your neurosurgeon just yet.
Herrera cautions that more work is needed to determine how long the
benefits last and what the side effects are. Besides, he adds, the
ultimate goal isn't to make healthy people smarter, it's to help
neurological patients. Those most likely to benefit from the procedure
are stroke or head-injury patients, whose brain damage is more stable
than that of someone with a progressive disease such as Alzheimer's,
Herrera says."

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