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eNeuro. 2016 May 23;3(2). pii: ENEURO.0019-16.2016. doi: 10.1523/ENEURO.0019-16.2016. eCollection 2016 Mar-Apr.

No Effect of Subthalamic Deep Brain Stimulation on Intertemporal Decision-Making in Parkinson Patients.

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Comparative Psychology, Institute of Experimental Psychology, Heinrich-Heine University Düsseldorf , 40225 Düsseldorf, Germany.
Institute of Clinical Neuroscience and Medical Psychology, Medical Faculty, Heinrich-Heine University Düsseldorf , 40225 Düsseldorf, Germany.


Deep brain stimulation (DBS) of the subthalamic nucleus (STN) is a widely used treatment for the motor symptoms of Parkinson's disease (PD). DBS or pharmacological treatment is believed to modulate the tendency to, or reverse, impulse control disorders. Several brain areas involved in impulsivity and reward valuation, such as the prefrontal cortex and striatum, are linked to the STN, and activity in these areas might be affected by STN-DBS. To investigate the effect of STN-DBS on one type of impulsive decision-making--delay discounting (i.e., the devaluation of reward with increasing delay until its receipt)--we tested 40 human PD patients receiving STN-DBS treatment and medication for at least 3 months. Patients were pseudo-randomly assigned to one of four groups to test the effects of DBS on/off states as well as medication on/off states on delay discounting. The delay-discounting task consisted of a series of choices among a smaller. sooner or a larger, later monetary reward. Despite considerable effects of DBS on motor performance, patients receiving STN-DBS did not choose more or less impulsively compared with those in the off-DBS group, as well as when controlling for risk attitude. Although null results have to be interpreted with caution, our findings are of significance to other researchers studying the effects of PD treatment on impulsive decision-making, and they are of clinical relevance for determining the therapeutic benefits of using STN-DBS.


Parkinson’s disease; deep brain stimulation; intertemporal choice

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