Tractography activation patterns in dorsolateral prefrontal cortex suggest better clinical responses in OCD DBS

Christian J. Hartmann, J. Luis Lujan, Ashutosh Chaturvedi, Wayne K. Goodman, Michael S. Okun, Cameron C. McIntyre, Ihtsham U. Haq

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Background: Medication resistant obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) patients can be successfully treated with Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) which targets the anterior limb of the internal capsule (ALIC) and the nucleus accumbens (NA). Growing evidence suggests that in patients who respond to DBS, axonal fiber bundles surrounding the electrode are activated, but it is currently unknown which discrete pathways are critical for optimal benefit. Our aim was to identify axonal pathways mediating clinical effects of ALIC-NA DBS. Methods: We created computational models of ALIC-NA DBS to simulate the activation of fiber tracts and to identify connected cerebral regions. The pattern of activated axons and their cortical targets was investigated in six OCD patients who underwent ALIC-NA DBS. Results: Modulation of the right anterior middle frontal gyrus (dorsolateral prefrontal cortex) was associated with an excellent response. In contrast, non-responders showed high activation in the orbital part of the right inferior frontal gyrus (lateral orbitofrontal cortex/anterior ventrolateral prefrontal cortex). Factor analysis followed by step-wise linear regression indicated that YBOCS improvement was inversely associated with factors that were predominantly determined by gray matter activation results. Discussion: Our findings support the hypothesis that optimal therapeutic results are associated with the activation of distinct fiber pathways. This suggests that in DBS for OCD, focused stimulation of specific fiber pathways, which would allow for stimulation with lower amplitudes, may be superior to activation of a wide array of pathways, typically associated with higher stimulation amplitudes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number519
JournalFrontiers in Neuroscience
Issue numberJAN
StatePublished - 2016


  • Clinical efficacy
  • Deep brain stimulation
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Tractography; simulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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