Clinical Connectomics: A network approach to deep brain stimulation

Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a well-established treatment option for Parkinson‘s Disease (PD), yielding improvements in motor symptoms and quality of life. Despite a clinically expanding field for new indications of DBS, the exact mechanism of action of DBS still remains a matter of debate. It is assumed that DBS induces activity changes in various local and distant functional brain networks. However, direct functional imaging using fMRI to investigate the impact of DBS on the functional whole-brain connectivity of the brain (i.e. the functional connectome) has not been feasible during active stimulation due to MR compatibility restrictions of DBS impulse generators available on the market. Only since late 2015, a novel CE-certificate introduced for certain types of DBS systems allows for direct fMRI acquisitions during active DBS. In the proposed project, we aim at seizing this possibility to investigate the impact of DBS on the functional connectome by combining the clinical expertise and advanced neuroscience methods from experts in the field of neurophysiology, imaging and computational modeling to use advanced signal analysis tools and computational models for application in DBS patients. Our center already scanned a small pilot dataset to prove feasibility of the proposed data acquisition approach. In the past, our labs have developed three open-source toolboxes that may be used to i) accurately localize DBS electrodes, ii) model complex whole-brain network interactions using graph theory and iii) fit computational basal ganglia – cortex models to empirical electrophysiological and MRI data. Together, these tools constitute an optimal starting point for a comprehensive analysis of DBS functional connectomics. The collected data will consist of high resolution preoperative structural MRI including DTI, postoperative fMRI in states of DBS switched on and off, as well as electrophysiological data acquired during and directly after surgery. All data will be made publicly available under an open license within the Berlin DBS connectome repository. We argue that the proposed projects and data repository will add a valuable contribution to the overall aim of the DFG priority program “Computational Connectomics”.

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Principal Investigators

Professor Dr.-Ing. Fred Henrik Hamker
Technische Universität Chemnitz
Fakultät für Informatik
Lehrstuhl Künstliche Intelligenz

Professorin Dr. Andrea Kühn
Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin
Campus Virchow-Klinikum
Klinik für Neurologie mit Experimenteller Neurologie

Professor Dr. Henrik Walter
Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin
Charité Campus Mitte
Klinik für Psychiatrie und Psychotherapie