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Neuropsychological performance following staged bilateral pallidal or subthalamic nucleus deep brain stimulation for Parkinson's disease

  • JOHANNES C. ROTHLIND (a1) (a2) (a3), RANDALL W. COCKSHOTT (a3), PHILIP A. STARR (a3) (a4) and WILLIAM J. MARKS (a3) (a5)

Deep brain stimulation (DBS) has the potential to significantly reduce motor symptoms in advanced Parkinson's disease (PD). Controversy remains about non-motor effects of DBS and the relative advantages of treatment at two brain targets, the globus pallidus internus (GPi) and the subthalamic nucleus (STN). We investigated effects of DBS on neuropsychological functioning in 42 patients with advanced PD randomly assigned to receive staged bilateral DBS surgery of either the GPi or STN. Patients underwent neuropsychological assessment prior to and 6 months after unilateral surgery. Twenty-nine subsequently underwent surgery to the contralateral side and completed a second follow-up neuropsychological evaluation 15 months later. Unilateral treatment resulted in small but statistically significant reductions in performance on several measures, including verbal fluency and working memory. A similar pattern was observed after bilateral treatment. Reductions in verbal associative fluency were significant only after left-sided treatment. There were few significant differences related to treatment at the two surgical targets. Supplementary analyses suggested that decrements in select neuropsychological domains following DBS are unrelated to age or post-surgical reduction in dopaminergic medication dose. Findings are discussed with reference to possible causes of neuropsychological decline and the need for further controlled studies of specific neuropsychological effects of DBS. (JINS, 2007, 13, 68–79.)

Corresponding author
Correspondence and reprint requests to: Dr. Johannes C. Rothlind, Mental Health Service (116B), Veterans Affairs Medical Center, 4150 Clement Street, San Francisco, CA 94121. E-mail: Johannes.Rothlind@Med.VA.Gov
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