A feasibility study of a new method for electrically producing seizures in man: Focal electrically administered seizure therapy [FEAST]

Ziad Nahas, Baron Short, Carol Burns, Melanie Archer, Matthew Schmidt, Joan Prudic, Mitchell S. Nobler, D. P. Devanand, Linda Fitzsimons, Sarah H. Lisanby, Nancy Payne, Tarique Perera, Mark S. George, Harold A. Sackeim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Background: Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) remains the most effective acute treatment for severe major depression, but with significant risk of adverse cognitive effects. Unidirectional electrical stimulation with a novel electrode placement and geometry (Focal Electrically Administered Seizure Therapy (FEAST)) has been proposed as a means to initiate seizures in prefrontal cortex prior to secondary generalization. As such, it may have fewer cognitive side effects than traditional ECT. We report on its first human clinical application. Method: Seventeen unmedicated depressed adults (5 men; 3 bipolar disorder; age 53 ± 16 years) were recruited after being referred for ECT. Open-label FEAST was administered with a modified spECTrum 5000Q device and a traditional ECT dosing regimen until patients clinically responded. Clinical and cognitive assessments were obtained at baseline, and end of course. Time to orientation recovery, a predictor of long-term amnestic effects, was assessed at each treatment. Nonresponders to FEAST were transitioned to conventional ECT. Results: One patient withdrew from the study after a single titration session. After the course of FEAST (median 10 sessions), there was a 46.1 ± 35.5% improvement in Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HRSD24) scores compared to baseline (33.1 ± 6.8, 16.8 ± 10.9; P < 0.0001). Eight of 16 patients met response criteria (50% decrease in HRSD24) and 5/16 met remission criteria (HRSD24 ≤ 10). Patients achieved full re-orientation (4 of 5 items) in 5.5 ± 6.4 min (median = 3.6), timed from when their eyes first opened after treatment. Conclusion: In this feasibility study, FEAST produced clinically meaningful antidepressant improvement, with relatively short time to reorientation. Our preliminary work first in primates and now depressed adults demonstrates that FEAST is feasible, safe, well-tolerated and, if efficacy can be optimized, has potential to replace traditional ECT.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)403-408
Number of pages6
JournalBrain Stimulation
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2013


  • Depression
  • ECT
  • Seizure


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