, Volume 33, Issue 1, pp 151-167
Date: 13 Jan 2012

The effects of DBS patterns on basal ganglia activity and thalamic relay

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Thalamic neurons receive inputs from cortex and their responses are modulated by the basal ganglia (BG). This modulation is necessary to properly relay cortical inputs back to cortex and downstream to the brain stem when movements are planned. In Parkinson’s disease (PD), the BG input to thalamus becomes pathological and relay of motor-related cortical inputs is compromised, thereby impairing movements. However, high frequency (HF) deep brain stimulation (DBS) may be used to restore relay reliability, thereby restoring movements in PD patients. Although therapeutic, HF stimulation consumes significant power forcing surgical battery replacements, and may cause adverse side effects. Here, we used a biophysical-based model of the BG-Thalamus motor loop in both healthy and PD conditions to assess whether low frequency stimulation can suppress pathological activity in PD and enable the thalamus to reliably relay movement-related cortical inputs. We administered periodic pulse train DBS waveforms to the sub-thalamic nucleus (STN) with frequencies ranging from 0–140 Hz, and computed statistics that quantified pathological bursting, oscillations, and synchronization in the BG as well as thalamic relay of cortical inputs. We found that none of the frequencies suppressed all pathological activity in BG, though the HF waveforms recovered thalamic reliability. Our rigorous study, however, led us to a novel DBS strategy involving low frequency multi-input phase-shifted DBS, which successfully suppressed pathological symptoms in all BG nuclei and enabled reliable thalamic relay. The neural restoration remained robust to changes in the model parameters characterizing early to late PD stages.

Action Editor: Charles Wilson
This work was supported by Burroughs Wellcome Fund CASI 1007274 and NSF CAREER 1055560 to S.V.S.