Researcher Views on Changes in Personality, Mood, and Behavior in Next-Generation Deep Brain Stimulation

American Journal of Bioethics Neuroscience 14 (3):287-299 (2023)
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Abstract

The literature on deep brain stimulation (DBS) and adaptive DBS (aDBS) raises concerns that these technologies may affect personality, mood, and behavior. We conducted semi-structured interviews with researchers (n = 23) involved in developing next-generation DBS systems, exploring their perspectives on ethics and policy topics including whether DBS/aDBS can cause such changes. The majority of researchers reported being aware of personality, mood, or behavioral (PMB) changes in recipients of DBS/aDBS. Researchers offered varying estimates of the frequency of PMB changes. A smaller majority reported changes in personality specifically. Some expressed reservations about the scientific status of the term ‘personality,’ while others used it freely. Most researchers discussed negative PMB changes, but a majority said that DBS/aDBS can also result in positive changes. Several researchers viewed positive PMB changes as part of the therapeutic goal in psychiatric applications of DBS/aDBS. Finally, several discussed potential causes of PMB changes other than the device itself.

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Author's Profile

Peter Zuk
Center for Bioethics, Harvard Medical School