Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Neuropsychopharmacology. 2008 Jan;33(2):368-77. Epub 2007 Apr 11.

Deep brain stimulation to reward circuitry alleviates anhedonia in refractory major depression.

Author information

  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University Hospital, Bonn, Germany.


Deep brain stimulation (DBS) to different sites allows interfering with dysfunctional network function implicated in major depression. Because a prominent clinical feature of depression is anhedonia--the inability to experience pleasure from previously pleasurable activities--and because there is clear evidence of dysfunctions of the reward system in depression, DBS to the nucleus accumbens might offer a new possibility to target depressive symptomatology in otherwise treatment-resistant depression. Three patients suffering from extremely resistant forms of depression, who did not respond to pharmacotherapy, psychotherapy, and electroconvulsive therapy, were implanted with bilateral DBS electrodes in the nucleus accumbens. Stimulation parameters were modified in a double-blind manner, and clinical ratings were assessed at each modification. Additionally, brain metabolism was assessed 1 week before and 1 week after stimulation onset. Clinical ratings improved in all three patients when the stimulator was on, and worsened in all three patients when the stimulator was turned off. Effects were observable immediately, and no side effects occurred in any of the patients. Using FDG-PET, significant changes in brain metabolism as a function of the stimulation in fronto-striatal networks were observed. No unwanted effects of DBS other than those directly related to the surgical procedure (eg pain at sites of implantation) were observed. Dysfunctions of the reward system--in which the nucleus accumbens is a key structure--are implicated in the neurobiology of major depression and might be responsible for impaired reward processing, as evidenced by the symptom of anhedonia. These preliminary findings suggest that DBS to the nucleus accumbens might be a hypothesis-guided approach for refractory major depression.

Comment in

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Nature Publishing Group
    Loading ...
    Support Center