Ben Gurion University

Prof. Avraham Zangen is an associate professor at the Life Science department of the Ben Gurion University in the Negev. His main academic interests are alterations within the brain's reward system that are associated with pathological conditions like depression, drug addiction and Attention deficit Hyperactivity Disorder , and how localized electromagnetic stimulation of these networks can affect such conditions in both animal models and humans (see http://lifeserv.bgu.ac.il/wb/azangen/).

As a part of the BMST project Prof. Zangen and his lab members investigate how deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (dTMS) can alter excitability of the prefrontal cortex and may affect hyperactivity and inattention symptoms in ADHD adult patients. Significantly, EEG is used simultaneously with TMS to objectively characterize and monitor how deficient ADHD related brain networks change progressively during three weeks of daily deep TMS sessions. Initially, prior to treatment, TMS-EEG measurements are analyzed to differentiate the brain activity of ADHD patients from that of healthy participants and to pre-evaluate the individual future response of the patient to the upcoming treatment. Subsequent measurements allow for continued monitoring of therapeutic outcomes immediately after and during 2 months of follow-up to treatment, and to adapt treatment parameters specific the individual brain activity patterns of the patient. All of those could lead to the development of a combined deep TMS - EEG technological suit, tailor made to the specific brain activation patterns of the individual patient, providing for a more robust and effective treatment than those currently available.

Using an additional approach, the Zangen lab is involved in another research effort studying the more basic elements of simultaneous brain stimulation and monitoring using an animal model for depression. Experimenting on animals provides a way to target more specific brain regions with both stimulation and electrophysiological recording to closely observe short and long-term neural responses. Rats, especially bred to exhibit high level of depression-like behaviors, are treated with electrical TMS-like stimulation using a set of electrodes implanted into areas that are part of the brain's reward system and are known to play a central role in depressive-like behavior. By measuring electrical activity and neurochemical alterations (e.g. brain derived neurotrophic factor) before, during and after stimulation we try to identify brain activity patterns (bio-markers) which are disregulated by depression and can be normalized by multiple stimulation sessions. These can elucidate the treatment's possible mechanism of action and provide us knowledge about optimal parameters for the treatment of depression in rat models and ultimately in humans.