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Baier, Bernhard; Vogt, Thomas; Rohde, Franziska; Cuvenhaus, Hannah; Conrad, Julian; Dieterich, Marianne (2017): Deep brain stimulation of the nucleus ventralis intermedius: a thalamic site of graviceptive modulation. In: Brain Structure & Function, Vol. 222, No. 1: pp. 645-650
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Based on animal studies, it has been shown that the nucleus ventralis intermedius (VIM) of the thalamus plays an important role within the vestibular system. A few human studies support the vestibular role of the VIM. In this study, we aimed to test the hypothesis whether changing the stimulation status in patients with unilateral deep brain stimulation in the VIM causally modulates the vestibular system, i.e., the graviceptive vertical perception. We tested six tremor patients for tilt of subjective visual vertical (SVV) with unilateral DBS in the VIM (mean age 67 years;mean time since electrode implantation 55 months). The mean tilt of the patients during the stimulator "on" condition was 1.4A degrees to the contraversive side [standard deviation (SD) +/- 0.4A degrees] whereas during the "off" period a mean contraversive tilt of 4.4A degrees (SD +/- 3.0A degrees) was obtained (p = 0.02). Thus, we were able to show that otolith-dominated graviceptive vertical perception can be directly modulated by changing the status of DBS VIM stimulation, indicating that the VIM is directly involved in (contraversive) vertical perception and its thalamic pathways.