Controlling Cerebellar Output to Treat Refractory Epilepsy

Trends Neurosci. 2015 Dec;38(12):787-799. doi: 10.1016/j.tins.2015.10.002. Epub 2015 Nov 18.


Generalized epilepsy is characterized by recurrent seizures caused by oscillatory neuronal firing throughout thalamocortical networks. Current therapeutic approaches often intervene at the level of the thalamus or cerebral cortex to ameliorate seizures. We review here the therapeutic potential of cerebellar stimulation. The cerebellum forms a prominent ascending input to the thalamus and, whereas stimulation of the foliated cerebellar cortex exerts inconsistent results, stimulation of the centrally located cerebellar nuclei (CN) reliably stops generalized seizures in experimental models. Stimulation of this area indicates that the period of stimulation with respect to the phase of the oscillations in thalamocortical networks can optimize its effect, opening up the possibility of developing on-demand deep brain stimulation (DBS) treatments.

Keywords: cerebellar nuclei; deep brain stimulation (DBS); refractory epilepsy.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cerebellum / pathology
  • Cerebellum / physiopathology*
  • Deep Brain Stimulation / methods*
  • Drug Resistant Epilepsy / pathology
  • Drug Resistant Epilepsy / physiopathology*
  • Drug Resistant Epilepsy / therapy*
  • Epilepsy, Generalized / pathology
  • Epilepsy, Generalized / physiopathology
  • Epilepsy, Generalized / therapy
  • Humans
  • Neural Pathways / physiopathology
  • Vagus Nerve Stimulation