Multi-objective particle swarm optimization for postoperative deep brain stimulation targeting of subthalamic nucleus pathways

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Objective. The effectiveness of deep brain stimulation (DBS) therapy strongly depends on precise surgical targeting of intracranial leads and on clinical optimization of stimulation settings. Recent advances in surgical targeting, multi-electrode designs, and multi-channel independent current-controlled stimulation are poised to enable finer control in modulating pathways within the brain. However, the large stimulation parameter space enabled by these technologies also poses significant challenges for efficiently identifying the most therapeutic DBS setting for a given patient. Here, we present a computational approach for programming directional DBS leads that is based on a non-convex optimization framework for neural pathway targeting. Approach. The algorithm integrates patient-specific pre-operative 7 T MR imaging, post-operative CT scans, and multi-objective particle swarm optimization (MOPSO) methods using dominance based-criteria and incorporating multiple neural pathways simultaneously. The algorithm was evaluated on eight patient-specific models of subthalamic nucleus (STN) DBS to identify electrode configurations and stimulation amplitudes to optimally activate or avoid six clinically relevant pathways: motor territory of STN, non-motor territory of STN, internal capsule, superior cerebellar peduncle, thalamic fasciculus, and hyperdirect pathway. Main results. Across the patient-specific models, single-electrode stimulation showed significant correlations across modeled pathways, particularly for motor and non-motor STN efferents. The MOPSO approach was able to identify multi-electrode configurations that achieved improved targeting of motor STN efferents and hyperdirect pathway afferents than that achieved by any single-electrode monopolar setting at equivalent power levels. Significance. These results suggest that pathway targeting with patient-specific model-based optimization algorithms can efficiently identify non-trivial electrode configurations for enhancing activation of clinically relevant pathways. However, the results also indicate that inter-pathway correlations can limit selectivity for certain pathways even with directional DBS leads.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number066020
JournalJournal of neural engineering
Issue number6
StatePublished - Oct 10 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 IOP Publishing Ltd.


  • deep brain stimulation
  • particle swarm optimization
  • pathway activation models
  • subthalamic nucleus


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