Background: Deep brain stimulation (DBS) of the caudal zona incerta (cZi) is a relatively unexplored and promising treatment in patients with severe essential tremor (ET). Preliminary data further indicate that the ability to produce language may be slightly affected by the treatment. Objective: To evaluate the effects on verbal fluency following cZi DBS in patients with ET. Method: Seventeen consecutive patients who had undergone DBS of the cZi for ET were tested regarding verbal fluency before surgery, 3 days after surgery and after 1 year. Ten patients were also evaluated by comparing performance on versus off stimulation after 1 year. Results: The total verbal fluency score decreased slightly, but significantly, from 22.7 (SD = 10.9) before surgery to 18.1 (SD = 7.5) 3 days after surgery (p = 0.036). After 1 year the score was nonsignificantly decreased to 20.1 (SD = 9.7, p = 0.2678). There was no detectable difference between stimulation on and off after 1 year. Conclusion: There was a tendency of an immediate and mostly transient postoperative decline in verbal fluency following cZi DBS for ET. In some of the patients this reduction was, however, more pronounced and also sustained over time.

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