Neuropsychological safety of nucleus accumbens deep brain stimulation for major depression: Effects of 12-month stimulation

Christiane Grubert, René Hurlemann, Bettina H. Bewernick, Sarah Kayser, Barbara Hadrysiewicz, Nikolai Axmacher, Volker Sturm, Thomas E. Schlaepfer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives. Deep brain stimulation (DBS) to the nucleus accumbens (NAcc-DBS) has antidepressant effects in patients suffering from treatment-resistant depression (TRD). However, limited information exists regarding the impact of NAcc-DBS on cognitive functioning. The aim of this study was to examine whether NAcc-DBS in patients with TRD has any cognitive effects. Methods. A comprehensive neuropsychological battery was administered to 10 patients with TRD before onset of bilateral NAcc-DBS and after 1 year of DBS stimulation. Neuropsychological testing covered the domains of attention, learning and memory, executive functions, visual perception, and language. Performance was analyzed at baseline and after 1 year of continuous DBS. Results. No evidence was found for cognitive decline following NAcc-DBS comparing test results after 1 year of NAcc-DBS with baseline. However, significantly improved cognitive performance on tests of attention, learning and memory, executive functions and visual perception was found. In addition, there was a general trend towards cognitive enhancement from below average to average performance. These procognitive effects were independent of the antidepressant effects of NAcc-DBS or changes in NAcc-DBS parameters. Conclusions. These results not only support cognitive safety of NAcc-DBS but also stress its beneficial role in augmenting cognitive performance in patients with TRD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)549-558
Number of pages10
JournalWorld Journal of Biological Psychiatry
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 2011


  • Major depressive disorder
  • PET
  • deep brain stimulation
  • neuropsychological tests
  • nucleus accumbens

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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