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Deep Brain Stimulation for OCD – Taking It To The Next Level

by smokedsalmon
by smokedsalmon

As we know, exposure and response prevention (ERP) therapy is the front line psychological treatment for OCD. Many people are also helped by medication.

While I’ve written before about confusion surrounding treatment resistant OCD, the fact remains that there are people with obsessive-compulsive disorder who are not helped by ERP therapy or medication.

Is there any hope for recovery from OCD for these people?

I believe there is always hope. Deep brain stimulation, focused ultrasound, and neurofeedback have shown promising results for those with OCD who have been considered treatment resistant.

And now, another reason to be hopeful. Dr. Wayne Goodman of Baylor College of Medicine has been awarded a substantial five-year grant to help those with OCD through the development of new technology using deep brain stimulation. His team will be taking deep brain stimulation to the next level by researching neuroscience and a form of artificial intelligence known as machine learning. It is a monumental task that might just have the potential to eventually revolutionize the treatment of OCD.

Scientists already know that stimulating particular areas of the brain can positively effect those with diseases such as Parkinson’s, epilepsy, and OCD. While deep brain stimulation currently requires a doctor and programmer to make adjustments based on the patient’s feedback, Dr. Goodman and his team are researching the possibility of the brain “telling” the device what to do.

In this detailed article, Dr. Goodman says:

“Most deep brain stimulation systems are open loop systems,” Goodman said. “When they’re on, they’re on. The newer generation deep brain stimulation systems are adaptive. They’re a closed loop. One electrode records from the brain in this device while another produces a stimulus.”

Dr. Goodman and his team will first “teach” a computer to identify OCD through the monitoring of brain activity and the use of facial recognition cameras. Their ultimate goal is is to create an implantable device that will not only recognize the onset of an “OCD episode” but also deliver the necessary treatment. In the words of Dr. Goodman:

“In addition to improving deep brain stimulation treatment, we have a unique opportunity to learn a great deal about the brain circuitry that causes obsessive compulsive behavior or is associated with naturally occurring hypomania as happens in bipolar disorder,” Goodman said. “The long-term goal would be to use these data to develop less invasive treatments.”

I am incredibly thankful for the intelligence, vision, and dedication of Dr. Goodman and professionals such as him who are passionate about helping those with OCD and other brain disorders.  I wish them all the best as they undertake this amazing research. They give us all reason to hope.

You can read more about Dr. Goodman and his study here.

Deep Brain Stimulation for OCD – Taking It To The Next Level

Janet Singer

I am a mom whose son was completely debilitated by severe OCD in 2008. Thankfully he made a remarkable recovery and is now living life to the fullest. I've since become an advocate for OCD awareness with the goal of spreading the word that OCD, no matter how severe, is treatable. I am the author of Overcoming OCD: A Journey to Recovery (Rowman & Littlefield, January 2015) and have my own blog about OCD at There truly is hope for all those who suffer from this insidious disorder!

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APA Reference
Singer, J. (2016). Deep Brain Stimulation for OCD – Taking It To The Next Level. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 22, 2020, from


Last updated: 18 Oct 2016
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