Deep brain stimulation for treating schizophrenia

# Deep brain stimulation for treating schizophrenia

Only a case study.

The case study, published online April 24 in Biological Psychiatry , details how this procedure targets the substantia nigra pars reticulata—a part of the brain that’s a key hub of circuits involved in control of learning, executive functions and behaviors, and emotions. When this part of the brain is modulated using deep brain stimulation, it showed the potential to alleviate treatment resistant schizophrenia symptoms.

“Deep brain stimulation could be a game changer for schizophrenia patients who don’t respond to medication,” says lead author Nicola Cascella, M.D., assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and faculty member at the Johns Hopkins Schizophrenia Center. “This is not a cure for schizophrenia. It’s an innovative way to treat the symptoms, and so far for our patient, the treatment is working.”


Sounds very promising. I wonder if it’s similar to a device I have, that emits electromagnetic current. It runs at different frequencies depending on what you want to achieve. Some settings are for relaxation, some are for energy. Fairly new to me, so I’m not sure what it’s doing yet. Nothing negative anyway


After one year of deep brain stimulation, the patient remains stably improved, with no significant complications or adverse reactions related to the implanted device. The patient reported immediate and complete resolution of chronic hallucinations right from the start of stimulation.

They need to figure out how to do this without the brain surgery, it would be accessable to many more people.


I tried to get the full text of the article, but failed. Sci-Hub does not have the text, sadly. I am curious about the details of the operation, and whether there are mentions of similar operations in the past.

P.S. Managed to find it via a friend who has access to journals.

The trial was registered on Deep Brain Stimulation in Treatment Resistant Schizophrenia - Full Text View -

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They tried this with parkinson’s, hereditary dystonia and other motor disorders and some actually reported brain damage.

So…we have to be very careful.

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Her weight was highly elevated, sadly, a BMI over 50 is something very, very unhealthy. Quote:

The subject experienced no significant complications or
adverse events related to the DBS device implantation except
for increased appetite for the first 3 months, gaining 33 lb,
taking her weight to 314 lb (142 kg) with a body mass index of
54 kg/m2. Contrary to many studies of DBS for Parkinson’s
disease reporting decreased verbal fluency on tests of
speeded lexical retrieval, our subject showed the exact
opposite pattern. Her phonemic and semantic verbal fluency
increased markedly. Conversely, her performance on tests of
verbal and visuospatial learning/memory declined. The cause
of these shifts is unclear, and whether they persist following
further treatment will require longer follow-up

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Interesting free-access review of deep-brain stimulation attempts in schizophrenia, from a couple years ago, which mentions the study in question as ongoing: Approaches to neuromodulation for schizophrenia

Gault JM, Davis R, Cascella NG, et al. Approaches to neuromodulation for schizophrenia. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry 2018;89:777-787.