Deep brain stimulation in epilepsy

J Clin Neurophysiol. 2001 Nov;18(6):514-32. doi: 10.1097/00004691-200111000-00002.


Since the pioneering studies of Cooper et al. to influence epilepsy by cerebellar stimulation, numerous attempts have been made to reduce seizure frequency by stimulation of deep brain structures. Evidence from experimental animal studies suggests the existence of a nigral control of the epilepsy system. It is hypothesized that the dorsal midbrain anticonvulsant zone in the superior colliculi is under inhibitory control of efferents from the substantia nigra pars reticulata. Inhibition of the subthalamic nucleus (STN) could release the inhibitory effect of the substantia nigra pars reticulata on the dorsal midbrain anticonvulsant zone and thus activate the latter, raising the seizure threshold. Modulation of the seizure threshold by stimulation of deep brain structures-in particular, of the STN-is a promising future treatment option for patients with pharmacologically intractable epilepsy. Experimental studies supporting the existence of the nigral control of epilepsy system and preliminary results of STN stimulation in animals and humans are reviewed, and alternative mechanisms of seizure suppression by STN stimulation are discussed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiopathology
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy*
  • Electrodes, Implanted
  • Electroencephalography
  • Epilepsy / physiopathology
  • Epilepsy / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Neural Inhibition / physiology
  • Neural Pathways / physiopathology
  • Substantia Nigra / physiopathology*
  • Subthalamic Nucleus / physiopathology*