Journal of Neural Transmission

, Volume 123, Issue 7, pp 775–783 | Cite as

The rationale for deep brain stimulation in Alzheimer’s disease

Neurology and Preclinical Neurological Studies - Review Article


Alzheimer’s disease is a major worldwide health problem with no effective therapy. Deep brain stimulation (DBS) has emerged as a useful therapy for certain movement disorders and is increasingly being investigated for treatment of other neural circuit disorders. Here we review the rationale for investigating DBS as a therapy for Alzheimer’s disease. Phase I clinical trials of DBS targeting memory circuits in Alzheimer’s disease patients have shown promising results in clinical assessments of cognitive function, neurophysiological tests of cortical glucose metabolism, and neuroanatomical volumetric measurements showing reduced rates of atrophy. These findings have been supported by animal studies, where electrical stimulation of multiple nodes within the memory circuit have shown neuroplasticity through stimulation-enhanced hippocampal neurogenesis and improved performance in memory tasks. The precise mechanisms by which DBS may enhance memory and cognitive functions in Alzheimer’s disease patients and the degree of its clinical efficacy continue to be examined in ongoing clinical trials.


Deep brain stimulation Alzheimer’s disease Dementia Fornix Nucleus basalis of Meynert Cognition 



Alzheimer’s disease


Alzheimer’s disease assessment scale-cognitive subscale


Deep brain stimulation




Mini-mental state examination


Nucleus basalis of Meynert


Positron emission tomography


Quality-adjusted life year


Standardized low-resolution electromagnetic tomography


Subthalamic nucleus


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

AML is a consultant to Medtronic, St. Jude, and Boston Scientific. AML serves on the scientific advisory board of Ceregene, Codman, Neurophage, Aleva and Alcyone Life Sciences. AML is cofounder of Functional Neuromodulation Inc. and hold intellectual property in the field of Deep Brain Stimulation. All other authors declare no relevant conflicts.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Neurosurgery, Barrow Neurological InstituteSt. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical CenterPhoenixUSA
  2. 2.Division of NeurosurgeryUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

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