Deep Brain Stimulation for Autism Spectrum Disorder: Current and Future UsesAuthor(s): Roger Kurlan
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a common and often disabling neurodevelopmental disorder of childhood with limited treatments. Deep brain stimulation surgery (DBS) was recently reported to benefit self-injurious behavior in some patients with low functioning ASD. Currently understood involvement of frontal-basal ganglia circuits in the inhibitory control of movement, thoughts, perceptions, emotions and other functions suggest an important disturbance of this system in ASD. This, in turn, suggests that DBS has potential benefits for higher functioning ASD patients with disabling repetitive motor and non-motor aspects. Experience with DBS for related conditions Tourette syndrome and obsessive-compulsive disorder provides insights into potential benefits and potential DBS targets for ASD. It appears to be rational to pursue systematic research studies of DBS as a treatment for aspects of ASD beyond SIB, particularly other disabling repetitive motor and non-motor features.