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Prof. Dr. Damiaan Denys


  • Position
  • Professor of Psychiatry
  • Institute
  • Academic Medical Center



Deep brain stimulation in psychiatry

Deep brain stimulation or DBS has shown to be effective in therapy-resistant cases of a number of neurological and psychiatric diseases. However, it has not yet been fully determined which psychiatric symptoms respond best to DBS and which brain targets are optimal. Additionally, despite extensive clinical and experimental research, our knowledge of the mechanisms of action of DBS still is limited. The research program of this group focuses on two main questions:

  • How can DBS be used safely and efficaciously for the treatment of compulsivity, depression, addiction and eating disorders?
  • How does successful DBS alter neurotransmission in these diseases? As these diseases are characterized by profound behavioral alterations due to disturbances of affect, motivation and cognition, our research is focused on neurobiological substrates of motivational behavior in general.


Our approach is translational and multidisciplinary; clinical findings from DBS studies in humans are translated in relevant animal models, in which we observe effects of DBS on behavior and its underpinning neurocircuitry. Our human research tools include methods for intracerebral electrophysiological recordings, functional MRI, SPECT, neuroendocrinology and genetics in combination with neuropsychological tests.