The Medial Septum as a Potential Target for Treating Brain Disorders Associated With Oscillopathies

The medial septum (MS), as part of the basal forebrain, supports many physiological functions, from sensorimotor integration to cognition. With often reciprocal connections with a broad set of peers at all major divisions of the brain, the MS orchestrates oscillatory neuronal activities throughout the brain. These oscillations are critical in generating sensory and emotional salience, locomotion, maintaining mood, supporting innate anxiety, and governing learning and memory. Accumulating evidence points out that the physiological oscillations under septal influence are frequently disrupted or altered in pathological conditions. Therefore, the MS may be a potential target for treating neurological and psychiatric disorders with abnormal oscillations (oscillopathies) to restore healthy patterns or erase undesired ones. Recent studies have revealed that the patterned stimulation of the MS alleviates symptoms of epilepsy. We discuss here that stimulus timing is a critical determinant of treatment efficacy on multiple time scales. On-demand stimulation may dramatically reduce side effects by not interfering with normal physiological functions. A precise pattern-matched stimulation through adaptive timing governed by the ongoing oscillations is essential to effectively terminate pathological oscillations. The time-targeted strategy for the MS stimulation may provide an effective way of treating multiple disorders including Alzheimer’s disease, anxiety/fear, schizophrenia, and depression, as well as pain.