Clinical Case Study ARTICLE

Front. Hum. Neurosci., 21 January 2013 | doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2012.00341

DBS in the basolateral amygdala improves symptoms of autism and related self-injurious behavior: a case report and hypothesis on the pathogenesis of the disorder

Volker Sturm1*, Oliver Fricke2, Christian P. Bührle1, Doris Lenartz1, Mohammad Maarouf1, Harald Treuer1, Jürgen K. Mai3 and Gerd Lehmkuhl2
  • 1Department of Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery, University of Cologne, Cologne, Germany
  • 2Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, University of Cologne, Cologne, Germany
  • 3Department of Neuroanatomy, University of Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf, Germany

We treated a 13-year-old boy for life-threatening self-injurious behavior (SIB) and severe Kanner's autism with deep brain stimulation (DBS) in the amygdaloid complex as well as in the supra-amygdaloid projection system. Two DBS-electrodes were placed in both structures of each hemisphere. The stimulation contacts targeted the paralaminar, the basolateral (BL), the central amygdala as well as the supra-amygdaloid projection system. DBS was applied to each of these structures, but only stimulation of the BL part proved effective in improving SIB and core symptoms of the autism spectrum in the emotional, social, and even cognitive domains over a follow up of now 24 months. These results, which have been gained for the first time in a patient, support hypotheses, according to which the amygdala may be pivotal in the pathogeneses of autism and point to the special relevance of the BL part.

Keywords: autism, self-injurious behavior, amygdala, deep brain stimulation

Citation: Sturm V, Fricke O, Bührle CP, Lenartz D, Maarouf M, Treuer H, Mai JK and Lehmkuhl G (2013) DBS in the basolateral amygdala improves symptoms of autism and related self-injurious behavior: a case report and hypothesis on the pathogenesis of the disorder. Front. Hum. Neurosci. 6:341. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2012.00341

Received: 11 November 2011; Accepted: 11 December 2012;
Published online: 21 January 2013.

Edited by:

Hauke R. Heekeren, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany

Reviewed by:

Kamila Markram, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland
Bhismadev Chakrabarti, University of Reading, UK

Copyright © 2013 Sturm, Fricke, Bührle, Lenartz, Maarouf, Treuer, Mai and Lehmkuhl. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and subject to any copyright notices concerning any third-party graphics etc.

*Correspondence: Volker Sturm, Department of Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery, University Hospital of Cologne, Kerpener Straße 62, D-50937, Germany. e-mail: volker.sturm@uk-koeln.de

Back to top