More Promising Brain Studies In Rhode Island

Nov 27, 2013

I reported recently on the growth of brain science in Rhode Island, mentioning some of the many scientists, doctors, and institutes involved and some of the diseases they're hoping to tackle.

But of course, as with any story, I learned much more in the course of my reporting than I was able to include. Here are a few more neuroscience highlights in the Ocean State:

- Autism: Rhode Island Hospital's Norman Prince Neuroscience Institute, the Brown Institute for Brain Science, and more groups are collaborating on a statewide autism registry called RICART. The idea is to support not just research but also patient care and helping family caregivers. As far as the researchers know, there's no other such registry in the nation.

- Depression, Parkinsons: Researchers at a number of Rhode Island institutions are working on a technique called "deep brain stimulation," or DBS, which could be useful in treating a number of conditions, including depression and Parkinsons. It's a much more advanced kind of electro-shock therapy, which was not very targeted and has lots of side effects. DBS targets the electrical stimulation right inside specific parts of the brain, said John Robson, an executive at both the Norman Prince Neuroscience Institute and the Brown Institute for Brain Science, and often gives people immediate relief. It's really meant for people for whom other treatments haven't worked, and it's still very much experimental. But there are trials going on now.

- Hospitals: The Miriam Hospital, Hasbro Children's Hospital, Bradley Hospital, Butler Hospital, the Providence VA, and Women and Infants Hospital are also participants in brain research and treatment in Rhode Island.

- Other nervous system and brain diseases are getting attention in Rhode Island, including epilepsy, stroke, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and concussion. Alzheimer's, of course, is a major focus.

- Interested in participating in a clinical trial? Check the web sites of each hospital or visit Your doctor may also be aware of a trial regarding your particular condition. Remember, though, that clinical trials are experiments, not treatments.