Deep brain stimulation in dystonia: The added value of neuropsychological assessments

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Deep brain stimulation (DBS) of the internal globus pallidus (GPi) is a recognized treatment for medication-refractory dystonia. Problems in executive functions and social cognition can be part of dystonia phenotypes. The impact of pallidal DBS on cognition appears limited, but not all cognitive domains have been investigated yet. In the present study, we compare cognition before and after GPi DBS. Seventeen patients with dystonia of various aetiology completed pre- and post-DBS assessment (mean age 51 years; range 20-70 years). Neuropsychological assessment covered intelligence, verbal memory, attention and processing speed, executive functioning, social cognition, language and a depression questionnaire. Pre-DBS scores were compared with a healthy control group matched for age, gender and education, or with normative data. Patients were of average intelligence but performed significantly poorer than healthy peers on tests for planning and for information processing speed. Otherwise, they were cognitively unimpaired, including social cognition. DBS did not change the baseline neuropsychological scores. We confirmed previous reports of executive dysfunctions in adult dystonia patients with no significant influence of DBS on cognitive functioning in these patients. Pre-DBS neuropsychological assessments appear useful as they support clinicians in counselling their patients. Decisions about post-DBS neuropsychological evaluations should be made on a case-by-case basis.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neuropsychology
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13-Jun-2023

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