Deep brain stimulation (DBS) has become an established clinical technology, with over 100,000 patients implanted worldwide. DBS has FDA approval for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease, essential tremor, dystonia, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. In addition, clinical trials are evaluating its efficacy for a range of other disorders such as epilepsy and treatment refractory depression. However, limited understanding of the effects of stimulation on the nervous system tempers the clinical successes of DBS. Additionally, the scientific definition of the therapeutic mechanisms of DBS remains elusive. It is presently unclear what electrode designs and stimulation parameters are optimal for maximum therapeutic benefit and minimal side effects.
The focus of the McIntyre laboratory is to couple results from functional imaging, neurophysiology and neuroanatomy with detailed computational models to enhance our understanding of the effects of DBS. The computer models are parameterized by innovative experimental work and subsequently used to develop new hypotheses, thereby creating a synergistic relationship of simulation and experimentation.
We then use our growing knowledge on the therapeutic mechanisms of DBS to better engineer the next generation of DBS devices. We hope to improve DBS for the treatment of movement disorders and provide fundamental technology necessary for the effective application of DBS to new clinical arenas.