Mapping autonomic, mood, and cognitive effects of hypothalamic region deep brain stimulation

Congratulations to Drs. Wissam Deeb, Leonardo AlmeidaKelly D Foote, and Michael S Okun on the publication of “Mapping autonomic, mood, and cognitive effects of hypothalamic region deep brain stimulation.”  This article was published in the April issue of Brain: A Journal of Neurology.


Due to its involvement in a wide variety of cardiovascular, metabolic, and behavioral functions, the hypothalamus constitutes a potential target for neuromodulation in a number of treatment-refractory conditions. The precise neural substrates and circuitry subserving these responses, however, are poorly characterized to date. We sought to retrospectively explore the acute sequalae of hypothalamic region deep brain stimulation and characterize their neuroanatomical correlates. To this end we studied at multiple international centers 58 patients (mean age: 68.5 ± 7.9 years, 26 females) suffering from mild Alzheimer’s disease who underwent stimulation of the fornix region between 2007 and 2019. We catalogued the diverse spectrum of acutely induced clinical responses during electrical stimulation and interrogated their neural substrates using volume of tissue activated modelling, voxel-wise mapping, and supervised machine learning techniques. In total 627 acute clinical responses to stimulation – including tachycardia, hypertension, flushing, sweating, warmth, coldness, nausea, phosphenes, and fear – were recorded and catalogued across patients using standard descriptive methods. The most common manifestations during hypothalamic region stimulation were tachycardia (30.9%) and warmth (24.6%) followed by flushing (9.1%) and hypertension (6.9%). Voxel-wise mapping identified distinct, locally separable clusters for all sequelae that could be mapped to specific hypothalamic and extrahypothalamic gray- and white-matter structures. K-nearest neighbor classification further validated the clinico-anatomical correlates emphasizing the functional importance of identified neural substrates with area under the receiving operating characteristic curves (AUROC) between 0.67 – 0.91. Overall, we were able to localize acute effects of hypothalamic region stimulation to distinct tracts and nuclei within the hypothalamus and the wider diencephalon providing clinico-anatomical insights that may help to guide future neuromodulation work.