Neuropsychological Assessment

  • Marjan JahanshahiEmail author


The aim of deep brain stimulation (DBS) is to improve function by controlling the targeted symptoms and ultimately ameliorating the quality of life (QoL) of the patients. Cognitive dysfunction and major psychiatric disorder are features of some of the disorders treated with DBS such as Parkinson’s disease (PD), which necessitates pre-operative screening to exclude cases with major cognitive deficits and psychiatric disorder unresponsive to treatment, as these can affect quality of life of the patients independent of the motor symptoms, and thus reduce the benefits of surgery. Even in disorders where cognition is largely intact prior to surgery (e.g. idiopathic dystonia), pre- and post-operative assessments of cognition are needed, as any form of brain surgery carries the potential risk of adverse cognitive effects. Furthermore, by a variety of mechanisms such as the positioning of the electrodes, spread of activation to neighbouring areas or effect of stimulation on distant parts of involved networks, changes in behaviour and mood may occur, which require careful documentation through pre- and post-operative assessments. Finally, DBS is a life-altering surgical intervention which can, over a relatively short period of time, have a dramatic impact on the patient’s symptoms and signs and modify their daily life and psychosocial functioning and interactions with other significant people in their lives. While much of these DBS-induced changes may be largely positive, even such positive change nevertheless requires adjustment and adaptation from the patient and their family. Neuropsychological assessment to screen for and exclude cases with major cognitive deficits or psychiatric disorders prior to surgery, and to establish a pre-operative baseline for cognitive function, mood, behaviour, psychosocial functioning and quality of life to compare with post-operative changes in these domains, is valuable for quantifying the beneficial effects of DBS and also documenting any potential adverse effects. As part of the multidisciplinary team, clinical neuropsychologists can also play a role in the pre-operative education and preparation of patients and their families for the changes that DBS will bring to their lives, and for the management of any post-operative psychosocial maladjustment.


Deep brain stimulation surgery Neuropsychology Cognition Psychiatric Psychosocial Parkinson’s disease Dystonia 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Functional Neurosurgery Unit, Department of Clinical and Movement NeurosciencesUCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology, The National Hospital for Neurology and NeurosurgeryLondonUK

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