Effects of Subthalamic Nucleus Deep Brain Stimulation on Facial Emotion Recognition in Parkinson's Disease: A Critical Literature Review

Behav Neurol. 2020 Jul 17;2020:4329297. doi: 10.1155/2020/4329297. eCollection 2020.


Deep brain stimulation (DBS) of the subthalamic nucleus (STN) is an effective therapy for Parkinson's disease (PD). Nevertheless, DBS has been associated with certain nonmotor, neuropsychiatric effects such as worsening of emotion recognition from facial expressions. In order to investigate facial emotion recognition (FER) after STN DBS, we conducted a literature search of the electronic databases MEDLINE and Web of science. In this review, we analyze studies assessing FER after STN DBS in PD patients and summarize the current knowledge of the effects of STN DBS on FER. The majority of studies, which had clinical and methodological heterogeneity, showed that FER is worsening after STN DBS in PD patients, particularly for negative emotions (sadness, fear, anger, and tendency for disgust). FER worsening after STN DBS can be attributed to the functional role of the STN in limbic circuits and the interference of STN stimulation with neural networks involved in FER, including the connections of the STN with the limbic part of the basal ganglia and pre- and frontal areas. These outcomes improve our understanding of the role of the STN in the integration of motor, cognitive, and emotional aspects of behaviour in the growing field of affective neuroscience. Further studies using standardized neuropsychological measures of FER assessment and including larger cohorts are needed, in order to draw definite conclusions about the effect of STN DBS on emotional recognition and its impact on patients' quality of life.

Publication types

  • Review