The cognitive effects of subthalamic nucleus (STN) stimulation in Parkinson's disease (PD) have been examined. However, there are no reported studies that evaluate, by incorporating a disease control group, whether neuropsychological performance in surgical patients changes beyond the variability of the assessment measures. To examine this issue, 17 PD patients were tested before and after bilateral STN stimulator implantation, both on and off stimulation. Eleven matched PD controls were administered the same repeatable neuropsychological test battery twice. Relative to changes seen in the controls, the surgery for electrode placement mildly adversely affected attention and language functions. STN stimulation, per se, had little effect on cognition. The STN DBS procedure as a whole resulted in a mild decline in delayed verbal recall and language functions. There were no surgery, stimulation, or procedure effects on depression scale scores. In contrast to these group findings, one DBS patient demonstrated significant cognitive decline following surgery.

Author notes

A portion of this paper was presented at the 29th annual meeting of the International Neuropsychological Society in Chicago, IL, February 2001.