Stimulation of the posterior hypothalamus for medically intractable impulsive and violent behavior

Stereotact Funct Neurosurg. 2005;83(2-3):63-6. doi: 10.1159/000086675. Epub 2005 Jun 30.


Objective: To describe the therapeutic effect of deep brain stimulation for the treatment of patients with below-average IQs who are affected by aggressive and disruptive behavior and who are resistant to any drug and/or conservative treatment (including occupational therapy).

Patients and methods: Two consecutive patients suffering from mental retardation with aggressive and disruptive behavior and resistant to any pharmacological treatment underwent deep brain stimulation electrode placement in the posteromedial hypothalamus for continuous chronic high-frequency stimulation (HFS). The stereotactic coordinates of the target were chosen according to the study by Sano et al., which involved hypothalamic stereotactic lesions.

Results: HFS of the posteromedial hypothalamus demonstrated consistent improvement of disruptive behavior in both patients at the follow-up evaluation 1 year later.

Conclusions: HFS of the posteromedial hypothalamus showed similar results to those obtained by Sano et al. in the 1960s with radiofrequency lesions of the same target volume. The reversibility of neurostimulation allows HFS to control disruptive behavior when conservative treatments are ineffective, and drug therapy is uneventful or causes severe side effects. In conclusion, this neuromodulation procedure improved the quality of life and the range of social relationships for both of the treated patients.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Electric Stimulation / methods*
  • Humans
  • Hypothalamus, Posterior / physiopathology*
  • Impulsive Behavior / therapy*
  • Intellectual Disability / psychology
  • Male
  • Psychosurgery / methods
  • Violence / prevention & control*