A Tractography Analysis of Two Deep Brain Stimulation White Matter Targets for Depression

David A. Gutman, Paul E. Holtzheimer, Timothy E.J. Behrens, Heidi Johansen-Berg, Helen S. Mayberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

193 Scopus citations


Background: Deep brain stimulation (DBS) of the subcallosal cingulate white matter (SCCwm) or anterior limb of the internal capsule (ALIC) may be effective in treating depression. Connectivity patterns of these regions may inform on mechanisms of action for DBS of these targets. Methods: Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and probabilistic tractography were performed in 13 nondepressed subjects to determine connectivity patterns of SCCwm and ALIC. Tract maps were generated for each target in each subject, and tract voxels were coded as being unique to either target or shared. Group level tract maps were generated by including only those voxels common to at least 10 of 13 (>75%) subjects. Results: The two targets have distinct patterns of connectivity with regions of overlap. The SCCwm showed consistent ipsilateral connections to the medial frontal cortex, the full extent of the anterior and posterior cingulate, medial temporal lobe, dorsal medial thalamus, hypothalamus, nucleus accumbens, and the dorsal brainstem. The ALIC seed, in contrast, demonstrated widespread projections to frontal pole, medial temporal lobe, cerebellum, nucleus accumbens, thalamus, hypothalamus, and brainstem. Common to both targets, albeit through distinct white matter bundles, were connections to frontal pole, medial temporal lobe, nucleus accumbens, dorsal thalamus, and hypothalamus. Conclusions: Connectivity patterns of these two DBS white matter targets suggest distinct neural networks with areas of overlap in regions implicated in depression and antidepressant response.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)276-282
Number of pages7
JournalBiological Psychiatry
Issue number4
StatePublished - 15 Feb 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • DBS
  • DTI
  • deep brain stimulation
  • depression
  • diffusion tensor imaging
  • internal capsule
  • subgenual cingulate
  • tractography


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