Pulse-to-pulse changes in the frequency of deep brain stimulation affect tremor and modeled neuronal activity

Merrill J. Birdno, Scott E. Cooper, Ali R. Rezai, Warren M. Grill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


The effectiveness of deep brain stimulation (DBS) in relieving the symptoms of movement disorders is dependent on the average frequency of stimulation. However, no one has yet examined whether the effectiveness of DBS in relieving tremor is dependent on the pulse-to-pulse (instantaneous) frequency of DBS. We examined the effects of paired-pulse thalamic DBS on tremor in subjects with essential tremor and on the firing of model neurons in a biophysically based computational model of DBS. DBS with an average rate of 130 Hz was more effective at reducing tremor when pulses were evenly spaced than when there were large differences between intrapair and interpair pulse intervals. Similar correlations were observed in the firing patterns of model neurons: increasing the difference between the intrapair and interpair intervals rendered model neurons more likely to fire synchronous bursts, more likely to fire irregularly, and less likely to entrain to the stimulus. The tremor responses provide evidence that the pulse-to-pulse frequency of DBS, not just its average rate, plays an important role in DBS function. Modeling results also suggest that effective DBS overrides oscillatory pathological activity and replaces it with more regularized neuronal firing patterns.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1675-1684
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of neurophysiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2007


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