Narrator: This is Science Today. A device used
to treat epilepsy has been found to benefit some patients
with severe depression. In a recent study, doctors
used a pacemaker-like device called the vagus nerve
stimulator to send pulses of electricity to the brain.
It lifted the mood of about 40 percent of severely
depressed patients. Dr. Evelyn Tecoma, of the University
of California, San Diego was not part of this study,
but she's been working with this device to treat epilepsy
Tecoma: There are two components to the vagus
nerve stimulator. There's a pulse generator, which
is implanted in the chest wall. It's about the size
of a small pocket watch and it is implanted in the
chest wall much like a cardiac pacemaker.
Narrator: From there, several wires under the
skin travel up to the neck and are attached to the
vagus nerve, which is near the carotid artery.
Tecoma: It's a device that can be programmed
to deliver the stimulus at intervals. So, it's not
on all the time - it comes on periodically.
Narrator: As a possible treatment for depression, the results were very encouraging but more study is needed. For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.