AJOB Neuroscience.

Ethical Considerations in Deep Brain Stimulation for the Treatment of Addiction and Overeating Associated With Obesity

The success of deep brain stimulation (DBS) for movement disorders and the improved understanding of the neurobiologic and neuroanatomic bases of psychiatric diseases have led to proposals to expand current DBS applications. Recent preclinical and clinical work with Alzheimer’s disease and obsessive-compulsive disorder, for example, supports the safety of stimulating regions in the hypothalamus and nucleus accumbens in humans. These regions are known to be involved in addiction and overeating associated with obesity. However, the use of DBS targeting these areas as a treatment modality raises common ethical considerations, which include informed consent, coercion, enhancement, threat to personhood, and manipulation of the reward center. Pilot studies for both of these conditions are currently investigational. If these studies show promise, then there is a need to address the ethical concerns related to the initiation of clinical trials including the reliability of preclinical evidence, patient selection, study design, compensation for participation and injury, cost-effectiveness, and the need for long-term follow-up. Multidisciplinary teams are necessary for the ethical execution of such studies. In addition to establishing safety and efficacy, the consideration of these ethical issues is vital to the adoption of DBS as a treatment for these conditions. We offer suggestions about the pursuit of future clinical trials of DBS for the treatment of addiction and overeating associated with obesity and provide a framework for addressing ethical concerns related to treatment.

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Volume 4, Issue 2
May 2013

Target Articles.

Ethical Considerations in Deep Brain Stimulation for the Treatment of Addiction and Overeating Associated With Obesity Jared M. Pisapia, Casey H. Halpern, Ulf J. Muller, Piergiuseppe Vinai, John A. Wolf, Donald M. Whiting, Thomas A. Wadden, Gordon H. Baltuch & Arthur L. Caplan