This integrative review frames a general rationale for the use of central thalamic deep brain stimulation (CT-DBS) to support arousal regulation mechanisms in the severely injured brain. The organizing role of the anterior forebrain mesocircuit in recovery mechanisms following widespread deafferentation produced by multi-focal structural brain injuries is emphasized. The mesocircuit model provides the conceptual foundation for the key role of the central thalamus as a privileged node for neuromodulation to support forebrain arousal regulation. In this context, cellular mechanisms arising at the neocortical, striatal, and thalamic population level are considered in the assessment of an individual patient's capacity for harboring underlying reserve that could be recruited for further recovery. Recent preclinical studies and pilot clinical results are compared to frame the detailed rationale for CT-DBS. Application of CT-DBS across the range of outcomes following severe-to-moderate brain injuries is discussed with the aim of improving consciousness and cognition in patients with non-progressive brain injuries.
Keywords: Consciousness; Executive function impairment; Intralaminar nuclei; Mesocircuit; Severe-to-moderate traumatic brain injury.