Deep Brain Stimulation

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The neurosurgical treatment of addiction

Bianca M. L. Stelten, Lieke H. M. Noblesse, Linda Ackermans, Yasin Temel, and Veerle Visser-Vandewalle

Addiction or substance dependence is a psychiatric disorder that affects many individuals in the general population. Different theories concerning the neurobiological aspects of addiction have been proposed. Special attention has been paid to models concerning dysregulation of the reward circuit and the inhibitory control system within the cortico-basal ganglia-thalamocortical pathways. In the past, attempts have been made to treat patients suffering from addiction by performing psychosurgery. Lesions were created in specific brain regions that were believed to be dysfunctional in addiction. Procedures such as cingulotomy, hypothalamotomy, and resection of the substantia innominata and the nucleus accumbens have been described as a treatment for severe addictive disorders. Deep brain stimulation, a neurosurgical treatment that has been proven to be a safe alternative for lesions in the treatment of movement disorders, has more recently been proposed as treatments for severe psychiatric conditions such as treatment-refractory obsessive-compulsive disorder and depression. With the expanding knowledge of the neurobiology of addiction, deep brain stimulation could be a future option in the treatment arsenal of addiction.