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Neurotherapeutics. 2008 Jan;5(1):14-25. doi: 10.1016/j.nurt.2007.10.067.

Mechanisms of deep brain stimulation in movement disorders as revealed by changes in stimulus frequency.

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Department of Biomedical Engineering, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708-0281, USA.


Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is an established treatment for symptoms in movement disorders and is under investigation for symptom management in persons with psychiatric disorders and epilepsy. Nevertheless, there remains disagreement regarding the physiological mechanisms responsible for the actions of DBS, and this lack of understanding impedes both the design of DBS systems for treating novel diseases and the effective tuning of current DBS systems. Currently available data indicate that effective DBS overrides pathological bursts, low frequency oscillations, synchronization, and disrupted firing patterns present in movement disorders, and replaces them with more regularized firing. Although it is likely that the specific mechanism(s) by which DBS exerts its effects varies between diseases and target nuclei, the overriding of pathological activity appears to be ubiquitous. This review provides an overview of changes in motor symptoms with changes in DBS frequency and highlights parallels between the changes in motor symptoms and the changes in cellular activity that appear to underlie the motor symptoms.

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