NEUROSCIENCE: Major developments within neuroscience have led to incredible progress in treating illnesses such as Parkinson’s disease and severe depression. But what future lies ahead for the human mind when we start tampering with our brain and emotions?
Siri Sollie
Managing editor at Modern Times Review.
Published date: March 22, 2019

This year’s science section at the CPH:DOX festival kicks off with the world premiere of Danish director Pernille Rose Grønkjær’s documentary Hunting for Hedonia. The uplifting and skilfully produced documentary is a collection of interviews with leading neuroscientists, psychiatrists, and patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

And according to the interviewees’ statements in Grønkjær’s film, the future looks bright when it comes to curing many of the illnesses characterising our modern societies such as depression, Parkinson’s syndrome, obesity and addiction disorders.

The positive effects of Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS)

Hunting for Hedonia explores the effects of a revolutionary technique employed by leading neuroscientists called Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS). The technique involves the implementation of a medical device in the brain – a so-called «neurostimulator» – that sends out electric impulses in order to manipulate specific parts of the brain.

«Hedonia tells you what is good for you.»

Hedonia – the location where happiness resides in our brain (hence the title) – is of particular importance in treating patients that suffer from severe and suicidal depressive disorders. As one of the interviewees puts it: «Hedonia tells you what is good for you.»

In the documentary we meet a 54-year-old woman who has suffered from severe depression all her life. We follow her before and after her surgery and treatment with DBS, and, judging by the images, the difference in her appearance and outlook on life is astonishing. «I feel like I have been 54 years in coma,» she says after the operation.

Hunting for Hedonia. Director: Pernille Rose Grønkjær

Next to the positive effects of treating depression, DBS has also proven to be effective in healing Parkinson’s syndrome. At the beginning of the film, a middle-aged man suffering from Parkinson’s is to receive a DBS operation by a number of neurosurgeons. His right hand is severely trembling at this point. The difference when we meet him later on in the film, now at home, is startling. His …

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