Future prospects of brain stimulation

Neurol Res. 2000 Apr;22(3):237-46. doi: 10.1080/01616412.2000.11740666.


Chronic high frequency (130 Hz) stimulation (HFS) of the thalamic target Vim has replaced thalamotomy as a treatment of tremor of various origins and was extended to two other targets (Subthalamic nucleus (STN) and the medial pallidus (GPi)), since 1993 based on recent experimental data in rats and monkeys. STN appears to be a target of major interest, able to control the three cardinal symptoms and to allow the decrease or suppression of levodopa treatment, which then suppresses also levodopa induced dyskinesias. The mechanisms of action of HFS are not fully understood, but are definitely related to high frequency and are probably different depending on the target. Inhibition of cellular activity or of network functions could be induced, by jamming of a retroactive loop for tremor, or by shutdown of neurotransmitter release in STN. All cardinal symptoms are alleviated from tremor to akinesia and rigidity. The effects remain stable over more than five years chronic HFS of STN, as the method of choice when a surgical procedure is indicated for the treatment of Parkinson's disease and even more when a bilateral procedure is necessary. Recent data show that STN stimulation could be useful in the treatment of dystonia as well as some forms of epilepsies. It is therefore possible that DAS in STN as well as in other targets could become a potent therapeutic tool in the future for neurological disorders. The future of brain stimulation will depend on new technologies (new circuits, electrodes, web based programmers), waveforms (alternatives to square waves, random distribution), targets (hypothalamic nuclei, locus coeruleus) and indications (dystonia, epilepsy, eating disorders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain*
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy* / adverse effects
  • Haplorhini
  • Humans
  • Parkinson Disease / therapy*
  • Parkinsonian Disorders / therapy
  • Rats
  • Thalamus