Role of deep brain stimulation in modulating memory formation and recall

Neurosurg Focus. 2009 Jul;27(1):E3. doi: 10.3171/2009.4.FOCUS0975.


Deep brain stimulation (DBS) has become an increasingly popular tool for treating a variety of medically refractory neurological and psychiatric disorders such as Parkinson disease, essential tremor, depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Several targets have been identified for ablation or stimulation based on their anatomical location and presumed function. Areas such as the subthalamic nucleus, globus pallidus, and thalamus, for example, are believed to play a key role in motor control and execution, and they are commonly used in the treatment of motor disorders. Limbic structures such as the cingulate cortex and ventral striatum, believed to be important in motivation, emotion, and higher cognition, have also been targeted for treatment of a number of psychiatric disorders. In all of these settings, DBS is largely aimed at addressing the deleterious aspects of these diseases. In Parkinson disease, for example, DBS has been used to reduce rigidity and tremor, whereas in obsessive-compulsive disorder it has been used to limit compulsive behavior. More recently, however, attention has also turned to the potential use of DBS for enhancing or improving otherwise nonpathological aspects of cognitive function. This review explores the potential role of DBS in augmenting memory formation and recall, and the authors discuss recent studies and future trends in this emerging field.

MeSH terms

  • Basal Ganglia / physiology
  • Brain / physiology
  • Deep Brain Stimulation / methods*
  • Electrodes, Implanted
  • Essential Tremor / physiopathology*
  • Globus Pallidus
  • Humans
  • Mental Recall / physiology*
  • Nervous System Diseases
  • Parkinson Disease / physiopathology
  • Subthalamic Nucleus / physiopathology