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The MGH Psychiatric Neurotherapeutics Program encompasses the clinical, research and training activities related to device-based treatments for psychiatric disorders. Such modern and emerging therapies include: Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT), Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS), and functional neurosurgical procedures. In addition to VNS, psychiatic neurosurgical treatments, offered in conjunction with the Departments of Neurosurgery and Neurology at MGH, include both ablative (lesion) procedures (such as, anterior cingulotomy, limbic leucotomy, and anterior capsulotomy, collectively termed "limbic system surgery [LSS]") and non-ablative methods using deep brain stimulation (DBS). At this time, the principal indications for these types of device-based treatments include major mood disorders (as indications for ECT, VNS, LSS) and obsessive compulsive disorder (as an indication for LSS). It should be emphasized that, at this time, DBS remains an experimental treatment for both mood disorders and obsessive compulsive disorder. Of note, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) represents another emerging experimental device-based treatment for severe resistant psychiatric disorders.

The MGH Somatotherapies Unit provides assessment, treatment and follow-up in the context of ECT and VNS. The MGH Psychiatric Neurosurgical Committee reviews all cases referred for ablative procedures and DBS. Treatment and research with respect to these neurosurgical procedures is carried out in a coordinated fashion with oversight by the Psychiatric Neurotherapeutics Program and The Psychiatric Neurosurgical Committee.

MGH Somatotherapies Unit

Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) - Charles Welch, M.D., Director of ECT
  • For ECT referrals, please contact Dr. Welch's Assistant, Marie Ferraro (617-726-2990).
MGH Psychiatric Neurosurgery Unit

Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS)
- Darin Dougherty, M.D., Director of VNS


Ned Cassem, M.D.
Darin Dougherty, M.D.

Emad Eskandar

Alice Flaherty, M.D., Ph.D.
Bruce Price, M.D.


Psychiatric Neurosurgery Committee - Valerie Giorgione, Secretary
Depression Clinical & Research Program
Bipolar Program
OCD Clinic


Program Director

Darin Dougherty, MD MSc
Department of Psychiatry
Massachusetts General Hospital-East
149 Thirteenth Street, Room 2612
Charlestown, MA 02129
Tel: (617)-724-6143; Fax: (617)726-4078
Publications by Dr. Dougherty

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Psychiatric Neurotherapeutics Program