Visually guided movements suppress subthalamic oscillations in Parkinson's disease patients

Ramin Amirnovin, Ziv M. Williams, G. Rees Cosgrove, Emad N. Eskandar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


There is considerable evidence that abnormal oscillatory activity in the basal ganglia contributes to the pathogenesis of Parkinson's disease. However, little is known regarding the relationship of oscillations to volitional movements. Our goal was to evaluate the dynamics of oscillatory activity at rest and during movement. We performed microelectrode recordings from the subthalamic nucleus (STN) of patients undergoing deep brain stimulation surgery. During recordings, the patients used a joystick to guide a cursor to one of four targets on a monitor. We recorded 184 cells and 47 pairs of cells in 11 patients. At rest, 26 cells (14%) demonstrated significant oscillatory activity, with a mean frequency of 18 Hz. During movement, this oscillatory activity was either reduced or completely abolished in all of the cells. At rest, 18 pairs (38%) of cells in five patients exhibited synchronized oscillatory activity, with a mean frequency of 15 Hz. In 17 of the 18 pairs, both of the cells exhibited oscillations, and, in one pair, only one of the cells was oscillatory. These synchronized oscillations were also significantly decreased with movement. There was a strong inverse correlation between firing rates and oscillatory activity. As the firing rates increased with movement, there was a decrease in oscillatory activity. These findings suggest that visually guided movements are associated with a dampening and desynchronization of oscillatory activity in STN neurons. One possible explanation for these observations is that the increased cortical drive associated with movement preparation and execution leads to a transient dampening of STN oscillations, hence facilitating movement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11302-11306
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number50
StatePublished - Dec 15 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Movement
  • Neurons
  • Oscillations
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Subthalamic nucleus
  • Visual guidance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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