Latest view on the mechanism of action of deep brain stimulation

Mov Disord. 2008 Nov 15;23(15):2111-21. doi: 10.1002/mds.22120.


How does deep brain stimulation (DBS) applied at high frequency (100 Hz and above, HFS) in diverse points of cortico-basal ganglia thalamo-cortical loops alleviate symptoms of neurological disorders such as Parkinson's disease, dystonia, and obsessive compulsive disorders? Do the effects of HFS stem solely or even largely from local effects on the stimulated brain structure or are they also mediated by actions of HFS on distal structures? Indeed, HFS as an extracellular stimulation is expected to activate subsets of both afferent and efferent axons, leading to antidromic spikes that collide with ongoing spontaneous ones and orthodromic spikes that evoke synaptic responses in target neurons. The present review suggests that HFS interfere with spontaneous pathological patterns by introducing a regular activity in several nodal points of the network. Therefore, the best site of implantation of the HFS electrode may be in a region where the HFS-driven activity spreads to most of the identified, dysrhythmic, neuronal populations without causing additional side effects. This should help tackling the most difficult issue namely, how does the regular HFS-driven activity that dampens the spontaneous pathological one, restore neuronal processing along cortico-basal ganglia-thalamo-cortical loops?

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Brain / pathology
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Deep Brain Stimulation / methods*
  • Deep Brain Stimulation / trends
  • Humans
  • Nervous System Diseases / pathology
  • Nervous System Diseases / therapy*
  • Neurons / physiology