In the treatment of movement disorders like Parkinson’s disease, doctors often use what is known as deep brain stimulation (DBS), in which implanted electrodes stimulate a patient’s brain. Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) is an essential tool for mapping brain activity in such patients. Combining DBS with fMRI could lead to significantly improved imaging of brain activity, and a team of Chinese researchers have tested the use of graphene fiber-based electrodes to make it possible.
According to Physics World, the team has tested their method on rats with Parkinson’s, managing to successfully improve their movement capabilities using DBS in conjunction with the graphene fiber electrodes. The MRI images produced using the graphene fiber electrodes were significantly cleaner and clearer than those using traditional platinum-iridium electrodes of the same size.
“The GF electrodes caused minimal interference to the magnetic field, and their presence would not cause significant attenuation in fMRI signals, thus enabling a full and unbiased mapping of the activation pattern under DBS–fMRI studies,” the researchers wrote in their study, recently published in Nature Communications. “Such advantage is critical for exploring the neuromodulatory effects and mechanisms of DBS therapies.”
The team hopes to eventually use the graphene fiber electrodes for further DBS-fMRI treatment for other brain conditions, including forms of depression that traditional methods have failed to treat.