Prof. Damiaan Denys


Damiaan Denys Controversias Psiquiatria Barcelona
Talk New hopes on physical treatments in psychiatry?
Date Saturday, April 22nd, 2017
Time 11:00 - 11:45


Damiaan Denys is Professor at the University of Amsterdam (UVA), Chair of the department of Psychiatry at the Academic medical Center in Amsterdam (AMC), and associated with The Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience (NIN).

Denys conducts research into anxiety and impulsive-compulsive disorders. His scientific research is characterized by a translational approach making use of psychiatry, philosophy and neuroscience. A particular focus of his research is the development of deep brain stimulation (DBS) for psychiatric disorders.

Denys studied Philosophy and Medicine at the KU Leuven (Belgium) and obtained his doctorate cum laude from Utrecht University (Netherlands) with a dissertation entitled On certainty: studies in obsessive compulsive disorder.


In the last decades, neuromodulating techniques such as deep brain stimulation (DBS) have emerged as promising alternatives for treatment of refractory psychiatric disorders. DBS enables modulation of distinct neuronal circuits by targeting specific brain structures. OCD and depression are particularly suitable for these interventions because of its strong link to discrete neuro-anatomic networks. A major advantage of neuromodulation is its potential of adjustable and reversible brain network manipulation. A breakthrough innovation of DBS is "closed-loop" DBS (CL-DBS), based on the real-time detection of pathologic signals through sensors in the implanted electrodes and on subsequent dynamic adjustments of the stimulation to the fluctuating disease state. This patient- and symptom-tailored strategy allows to initiate stimulation specifically upon appearance of the symptoms and thus lead to more effective and safe DBS therapy.

Implementation of CL-DBS represents a clinical and technological milestone, that requires answering the fundamental scientific questions in multiple scientific disciplines: What are the real-time neural electrical signals associated with psychiatric symptoms? (Neuroscience); Do humans tolerate a self- steering implanted brain device? (Philosophy); Is CL-DBS effective in the treatment of psychiatric disorders? (Psychiatry).


[PDF] Bergfeld IO, et al (2016). Deep Brain Stimulation of the Ventral Anterior Limb of the Internal Capsule for Treatment-Resistant Depression. JAMA Psychiatry. 2016 May 1;73(5):456-64. doi: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2016.0152.

[PDF] Luigjes, J., van denBrink, W., Schuurman, P. R., Kuhn, J., Denys, D. (2015). Is deep brain stimulation a treatment option for addiction?. Addiction, 110, 547–548. doi: 10.1111/add.12773.

[PDF] Denys D, et al (2010). Deep brain stimulation of the nucleus accumbens for treatment-refractory obsessive-compulsive disorder. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2010 Oct;67(10):1061-8. doi: 10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2010.122.