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Mov Disord. 2009 Aug 15;24(11):1613-20. doi: 10.1002/mds.22580.

Deep brain stimulation of the subthalamic nucleus improves intrinsic alertness in Parkinson's disease.

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Department of Neurology, University Hospital RWTH Aachen, Germany.


Deep brain stimulation (DBS) of the subthalamic nucleus (STN) is a treatment option for patients with Parkinson's disease (PD) in the advanced stage. Besides motor improvement, DBS of the STN may also modulate cognitive and attentional functions of the basal ganglia. In our study, 13 patients with PD and bilateral DBS of the STN were assessed with DBS switched on and off by the use of a wide range of neuropsychological tasks. This included reasoning, cognitive flexibility, phonemic and semantic word fluency, verbal and nonverbal short-term memory, learning, delayed verbal memory recall, and stimulus-response incompatibility. Special emphasis was put on basic attentional functions, in particular intrinsic and phasic alertness as well as visual search. DBS significantly improved intrinsic alertness, whereas phasic alertness and other neuropsychological domains were not affected. Additionally, the effects on intrinsic alertness were independent of motor improvements by DBS. The findings suggest that DBS modulates the fronto-parietal network of alertness.

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