Internal Capsule/Nucleus Accumbens Deep Brain Stimulation Increases Impulsive Decision Making in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.

Schüller T
Kohl S
Dembek T
Tittgemeyer M
Huys D
Visser-Vandewalle V
Li N
Wehmeyer L
Barbe MT
Kuhn J
Baldermann JC
Scientific Abstract

Deep brain stimulation of the anterior limb of the internal capsule (ALIC)/nucleus accumbens is an effective treatment in patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder but may increase impulsive behavior. We aimed to investigate how active stimulation alters subdomains of impulsive decision making and whether respective effects depend on the location of stimulation sites.

We assessed 15 participants with obsessive-compulsive disorder performing the Cambridge Gambling Task during active and inactive ALIC/nucleus accumbens deep brain stimulation. Specifically, we determined stimulation-induced changes in risk adjustment and delay aversion. To characterize underlying neural pathways, we computed probabilistic stimulation maps and applied fiber filtering based on normative structural connectivity data to identify "hot" and "cold" spots/fibers related to changes in impulsive decision making.

Active stimulation significantly reduced risk adjustment while increasing delay aversion, both implying increased impulsive decision making. Changes in risk adjustment were robustly associated with stimulation sites located in the central ALIC and fibers connecting the thalamus and subthalamic nucleus with the medial and lateral prefrontal cortex. Both hot spots and fibers for changes in risk adjustment were robust to leave-one-out cross-validation. Changes in delay aversion were similarly associated with central ALIC stimulation, but validation hereof was nonsignificant.

Our findings provide experimental evidence that ALIC/nucleus accumbens stimulation increases impulsive decision making in obsessive-compulsive disorder. We show that changes in risk adjustment depend on the location of stimulation volumes and affected fiber bundles. The relationship between impulsive decision making and long-term clinical outcomes requires further investigation.


2023. Biol Psychiatry Cogn Neurosci Neuroimaging, 8(3):281-289.

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