Mini Review ARTICLE

Front. Integr. Neurosci., 24 June 2011 |

Modulating affect, cognition, and behavior – prospects of deep brain stimulation for treatment-resistant psychiatric disorders

Thomas E. Schlaepfer1,2*, Bettina Bewernick1, Sarah Kayser1 and Diane Lenz1
  • 1 Brain Stimulation Group, Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University of Bonn, Bonn, Germany
  • 2 Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, USA

Most patients suffering from psychiatric disorders respond to combinations of psycho- and psychopharmacotherapy; however there are patients who profit little if anything even after many years of treatment. Since about a decade different modalities of targeted neuromodulation – among them most prominently – deep brain stimulation (DBS) – are being actively researched as putative approaches to very treatment-resistant forms of those disorders. Recently, promising pilot data have been reported both for major depression (MD) and obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD). Given the fact that patients included in DBS studies had been treated unsuccessfully for many years with conventional treatment methods, renders these findings remarkable. Remarkable is the fact, that in case of the long-term studies underway for MD, patients show a stable response. This gives hope to a substantial percentage of therapy–resistant psychiatric patients requiring new therapy approaches. There are no fundamental ethic objections to its use in psychiatric disorders, but until substantial clinical data is available, mandatory standards are needed. DBS is a unique and very promising method for the treatment of therapy–resistant psychiatric patients. The method allows manipulating pathological neuronal networks in a very precise way.

Keywords: major depression, obsessive–compulsive disorder, deep brain stimulation

Citation: Schlaepfer TE, Bewernick B, Kayser S and Lenz D (2011) Modulating affect, cognition, and behavior – prospects of deep brain stimulation for treatment-resistant psychiatric disorders. Front. Integr. Neurosci. 5:29. doi: 10.3389/fnint.2011.00029

Received: 31 January 2011; Accepted: 14 June 2011;
Published online: 24 June 2011.

Edited by:

Chiara Saviane, Scuola Internazionale Superiore di Studi Avanzati, Italy

Reviewed by:

Nir Lipsman, University of Toronto – University Health Network, Canada
Bruno Millet, Rennes 1 University, France

Copyright: © 2011 Schlaepfer, Bewernick, Kayser and Lenz. This is an open-access article subject to a non-exclusive license between the authors and Frontiers Media SA, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and other Frontiers conditions are complied with.

*Correspondence: Thomas E. Schlaepfer, Department of Psychiatry, University Hospital, Sigmund-Freud-Strasse 25, 53105 Bonn, Germany. e-mail: