Four Deep Brain Stimulation Targets for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: Are They Different?

  • Suzanne N. Haber
    Address correspondence to Suzanne Haber, Ph.D., at.
    Department of Pharmacology and Physiology, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Rochester, New York

    Department of Psychiatry, McLean Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Belmont, Massachusetts
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  • Anastasia Yendiki
    Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts
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  • Saad Jbabdi
    Wellcome Centre for Integrative Neuroimaging, Oxford Centre for Functional MRI of the Brain, Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom
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      Deep brain stimulation is a promising therapeutic approach for patients with treatment-resistant obsessive-compulsive disorder, a condition linked to abnormalities in corticobasal ganglia networks. Effective targets are placed in one of four subcortical areas with the goal of capturing prefrontal, anterior cingulate, and basal ganglia connections linked to the limbic system. These include the anterior limb of the internal capsule, the ventral striatum, the subthalamic nucleus, and a midbrain target. The goal of this review is to examine these 4 targets with respect to the similarities and differences of their connections. Following a review of the connections for each target based on anatomic studies in nonhuman primates, we examine the accuracy of diffusion magnetic resonance imaging tractography to replicate those connections in nonhuman primates, before evaluating the connections in the human brain based on diffusion magnetic resonance imaging tractography. Results demonstrate that the four targets generally involve similar connections, all of which are part of the internal capsule. Nonetheless, some connections are unique to each site. Delineating the similarities and differences across targets is a critical step for evaluating and comparing the effectiveness of each and how circuits contribute to the therapeutic outcome. It also underscores the importance that the terminology used for each target accurately reflects its position and its anatomic connections, so as to enable comparisons across clinical studies and for basic scientists to probe mechanisms underlying deep brain stimulation.


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