Electrical engram: how deep brain stimulation affects memory

Trends Cogn Sci. 2013 Nov;17(11):574-84. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2013.09.002. Epub 2013 Oct 11.


Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a surgical procedure involving implantation of a pacemaker that sends electric impulses to specific brain regions. DBS has been applied in patients with Parkinson's disease, depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (among others), and more recently in patients with Alzheimer's disease to improve memory functions. Current DBS approaches are based on the concept that high-frequency stimulation inhibits or excites specific brain regions. However, because DBS entails the application of repetitive electrical stimuli, it primarily exerts an effect on extracellular field-potential oscillations similar to those recorded with electroencephalography. Here, we suggest a new perspective on how DBS may ameliorate memory dysfunction: it may enhance normal electrophysiological patterns underlying long-term memory processes within the medial temporal lobe.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Biophysics
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Waves / physiology*
  • Deep Brain Stimulation*
  • Electroencephalography
  • Humans
  • Memory / physiology*