Effects of dopaminergic and subthalamic stimulation on musical performance


Although subthalamic-deep brain stimulation (STN-DBS) is an efficient treatment for Parkinson’s disease (PD), its effects on fine motor functions are not clear. We present the case of a professional violinist with PD treated with STN-DBS. DBS improved musical articulation, intonation and emotional expression and worsened timing relative to a timekeeper (metronome). The same effects were found for dopaminergic treatment. These results suggest that STN-DBS, mimicking the effects of dopaminergic stimulation, improves fine-tuned motor behaviour whilst impairing timing precision.

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This work was supported in part by an EBRAMUS grant to FTV (ITN MC FP7, GA 238157). We thank Dr. André Lee for helpful comments and discussions concerning the musical evaluation paradigm and Patricia Doucelance for help with the musical recordings.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Correspondence to Thomas D. Hälbig.

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van Vugt, F.T., Schüpbach, M., Altenmüller, E. et al. Effects of dopaminergic and subthalamic stimulation on musical performance. J Neural Transm 120, 755–759 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00702-012-0923-7

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  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Subthalamic nucleus
  • Deep brain stimulation
  • Dopamine
  • Motor control
  • Musical performance