Over the course of the development of deep brain stimulation (DBS) into a well-established therapy for Parkinson’s disease, essential tremor, and dystonia, its utility as a potential treatment for autonomic dysfunction has emerged. Dysfunction of autonomic processes is common in neurological diseases. Depending on the specific target in the brain, DBS has been shown to raise or lower blood pressure, normalize the baroreflex, to alter the caliber of bronchioles, and eliminate hyperhidrosis, all through modulation of the sympathetic nervous system. It has also been shown to improve cortical control of the bladder, directly induce or inhibit the micturition reflex, and to improve deglutition and gastric emptying. In this review, we will attempt to summarize the relevant available studies describing these effects of DBS on autonomic function, which vary greatly in character and magnitude with respect to stimulation target.
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