Tremor-specific neuronal oscillation pattern in dorsal subthalamic nucleus of parkinsonian patients

Maria Fiorella Contarino*, Lo J. Bour, Maarten Bot, Pepijn Van Den Munckhof, Johannes D. Speelman, Peter Richard Schuurman, Rob M. De Bie

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Background: Subthalamic nucleus (STN) deep brain stimulation effectively improves parkinsonian symptoms. It is hypothesized that distinct functional territories with different neurophysiologic activity within the STN relate to different symptoms. Objective: The aim of the study was to identify distinctive characteristics of STN neuronal activity related to tremor by directly comparing tremor sides with no-tremor sides. In addition, we studied the spatial pattern of frequency distributions within the STN in more detail. Methods: We analyzed intraoperative STN single/multiunit recordings from 33 tremor sides and 23 no-tremor sides. STN tracks were normalized to a length of 1 and subdivided into eight successive layers. The power spectral density was split into six frequency bands: theta (3-8 Hz), alpha (9-12 Hz), lower beta (13-20 Hz), upper beta (21-30 Hz), lower gamma (31-59 Hz), and upper gamma (60-100 Hz). Results: Tremor sides presented predominant theta frequency oscillations in the most dorsal layers of the STN, whereas in no-tremor sides beta frequencies predominated. Oscillatory activity was stronger in the dorsal STN than in the ventral, and this pattern was specific for frequencies in the theta, alpha, and beta bands, but not in the gamma bands. Conclusions: Our study supports the hypothesis that the presence of tremor is associated with a distinctive neuronal oscillations pattern. In particular, we demonstrate the specificity of the association of theta frequencies in the dorsal STN with tremor. Identification of symptom-specific characteristics of intraoperative microrecordings in the STN may lead to refinement of targeting for each patient, tailored to the specific clinical presentation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)305-314
Number of pages10
JournalBrain stimulation
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • basal ganglia
  • deep brain stimulation
  • microelectrode recordings
  • Parkinson's disease
  • tremor

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