Deep brain stimulation (DBS) of the subthalamic nucleus (STN) is a well-established surgical therapy for advanced Parkinson’s disease (PD). An emerging hypothesis is that the therapeutic benefit of DBS is derived from direct modulation of primary motor cortex (M1), yet little is known about the influence of STN DBS on individual neurons in M1. We investigated the effect of STN DBS, delivered at discrete interval intensities (20, 40, 60, 80, and 100%) of corticospinal tract threshold (CSTT), on motor performance and M1 neuronal activity in a naive nonhuman primate. Motor performance during a food reach and retrieval task improved during low-intensity stimulation (20% CSTT) but worsened as intensity approached the threshold for activation of corticospinal fibers (80% and 100% CSTT). To assess cortical effects of STN DBS, spontaneous, extracellular neuronal activity was collected from M1 neurons before, during, and after DBS at the same CSTT stimulus intensities. STN DBS significantly modulated the firing of a majority of M1 neurons; however, the direction of effect varied with stimulus intensity such that, at 20% CSTT, most neurons were suppressed, whereas at the highest stimulus intensities the majority of neurons were activated. At a population level, firing rates increased as stimulus intensity increased. These results show that STN DBS influences both motor performance and M1 neuronal activity systematically according to stimulus intensity. In addition, the unanticipated reduction in reach times suggests that STN DBS, at stimulus intensities lower than typically used for treatment of PD motor signs, can enhance normal motor performance.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This study was funded in part by the National Institutes of Health (NS-037019).
This study was funded in part by the National Institutes of Health (NS- 037019).
© 2015 the American Physiological Society.
- Deep brain stimulation
- Parkinson’s disease
- Primary motor cortex
- Subthalamic nucleus