Influence of chronic bilateral stimulation of the subthalamic nucleus on cognitive function in Parkinson's disease

J Neurol. 2001 Jul;248(7):603-11. doi: 10.1007/s004150170139.


Background: The clinical efficacy of chronic deep brain stimulation in the treatment of parkinsonian patients with severe levodopa-related motor adverse effects has been repeatedly shown. Bilateral subthalamic nucleus (STN) stimulation has been shown to present an advantage over pallidal stimulation as it induces a higher antiakinetic effect and has positive effects on all parkinsonian symptoms. The morbidity of such surgery is usually considered to be very low. However, few studies have extensively examined the effects of chronic STN stimulation on cognitive function.

Objective: The aim of the present study was to assess the effects of chronic bilateral STN stimulation on performance in an extensive battery of neuropsychological tests, three months and one year after surgery.

Methods: Nine patients with Parkinson's disease were selected for STN electrodes implantation. They underwent a neuropsychological evaluation at one month before and at three months after surgery. Six of them were examined again at one year after surgery.

Results: Before surgery, no patient showed cognitive decline. At three months after surgery, no modification was observed for most tasks. The information processing speed tended to improve. There was a significant reduction of the performance in a delayed free recall test and a trend toward a significant reduction of categorial word fluency. At one year after surgery, most task measures did not change. Slight impairment was observed for tasks evaluating executive function. Examination of individual results showed that some patients (30% at 3 months after surgery) showed an overall cognitive decline. Behavioural changes were also observed in 4 patients with overall cognitive decline in one of them.

Conclusion: In general, STN deep brain stimulation can be considered as a significant contribution to the treatment of severe Parkinson's disease However, in some patients it can induce overall cognitive decline or behavioural changes.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Cognition Disorders / etiology*
  • Cognition Disorders / therapy*
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy* / adverse effects
  • Electrodes
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / drug therapy
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Parkinson Disease / complications*
  • Parkinson Disease / psychology
  • Subthalamic Nucleus / physiology*
  • Treatment Outcome