Current steering to activate targeted neural pathways during deep brain stimulation of the subthalamic region

Ashutosh Chaturvedi, Thomas J. Foutz, Cameron C. McIntyre

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


Deep brain stimulation (DBS) has steadily evolved into an established surgical therapy for numerous neurological disorders, most notably Parkinson's disease (PD). Traditional DBS technology relies on voltage-controlled stimulation with a single source; however, recent engineering advances are providing current-controlled devices with multiple independent sources. These new stimulators deliver constant current to the brain tissue, irrespective of impedance changes that occur around the electrode, and enable more specific steering of current towards targeted regions of interest. In this study, we examined the impact of current steering between multiple electrode contacts to directly activate three distinct neural populations in the subthalamic region commonly stimulated for the treatment of PD: projection neurons of the subthalamic nucleus (STN), globus pallidus internus (GPi) fibers of the lenticular fasiculus, and internal capsule (IC) fibers of passage. We used three-dimensional finite element electric field models, along with detailed multicompartment cable models of the three neural populations to determine their activations using a wide range of stimulation parameter settings. Our results indicate that selective activation of neural populations largely depends on the location of the active electrode(s). Greater activation of the GPi and STN populations (without activating any side effect related IC fibers) was achieved by current steering with multiple independent sources, compared to a single current source. Despite this potential advantage, it remains to be seen if these theoretical predictions result in a measurable clinical effect that outweighs the added complexity of the expanded stimulation parameter search space generated by the more flexible technology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)369-377
Number of pages9
JournalBrain Stimulation
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2012


  • Parkinson's disease
  • computational modeling
  • current controlled stimulation
  • current steering
  • deep brain stimulation
  • neural activation


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