Toward Connectomic Deep Brain Stimulation

September 2017

Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a highly effective treatment for movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, Dystonia, and Essential Tremor and is being explored as a potential treatment for numerous other brain disorders. Electrodes are permanently implanted into deep structures of a patient’s brain and stimulated using an implanted pulse generator. While the therapeutic mechanism of DBS remains unclear, it likely depends on modulation of connected brain regions remote from the stimulation site itself. Recent advances in the field of brain imaging allow us to visualize these brain connections with an unprecedented level of detail. With these advances, a fusion between DBS, brain imaging, and the human brain connectome becomes eminent. Maps of human brain connectivity can be used to understand how DBS works and the ideal brain location to place an electrode to optimize efficacy. To facilitate such a fusion, we have developed an open source software tool to localize DBS electrodes and identify connectivity between these electrodes and the rest of the brain (www.lead-dbs.org). The tool is already being used in more than 50 centers worldwide. In this seminar, we invite experts from the fields of DBS, brain imaging, and connectomics to come together to discuss how to better merge these disciplines. The aim of the seminar is threefold. First, we aim to facilitate a cross-disciplinary exchange of ideas, identifying key areas where connectivity imaging can inform DBS and vice versa. Second, we aim to improve our software tool by gathering feedback from other researchers. Finally, we aim to increase the visibility and interest in the field of connectomic DBS, helping translate these research advances into improved therapies.

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