Scientists from The University of Hong Kong found that the electrical stimulation of the eye surface can reduce depression-like symptoms and improve cognitive function.
The research is published in Brain Stimulation and the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences and was conducted by Dr. Lim Lee Wei et al.
Major depression is the most common and severe psychiatric disorder across the world.
Recently, the World Health Organization reported that the COVID-19 pandemic had triggered a massive increase in the number of people with anxiety and depression.
The team previously found that deep brain stimulation of the prefrontal cortex in the brains of animals could improve memory function and relieve depressive symptoms.
These effects were attributed to the growth of brain cells in the hippocampus, a region of the brain known to be involved in learning and memory function.
However, this technique, also known as deep brain stimulation, is invasive and requires surgery to implant electrodes in the brain, which may cause side effects such as infections and other post-operative complications.
In the study, the team discovered that the non-invasive stimulation of the corneal surface of the eye (known as transcorneal electrical stimulation, or TES), which activates brain pathways, resulted in remarkable antidepressant-like effects and reduced stress hormones in an animal model for depression.
Furthermore, this technique induced the expression of genes involved in the development and growth of brain cells in the hippocampus.
They found that this non-invasive stimulation in mice strongly improved memory performance and reduced beta-amyloid deposits in the hippocampus, which is one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease.
The team says transcorneal electrical stimulation is a non-invasive method initially developed to treat eye diseases, and it would be a major scientific breakthrough if it could be applied to treat neuropsychiatric diseases.
These research findings pave the way for new therapeutic opportunities to develop a novel treatment for patients suffering from treatment-resistant depression and dementia.
If you care about depression, please read studies about a major cause of depression in older people, and findings of new drug to treat depression effectively.
For more information about dementia, please see recent studies about therapy that boosts recovery from stroke and dementia, and results showing lack of this vitamin may lead to dementia.
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