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Resting-State Phase-Amplitude Coupling Between the Human Subthalamic Nucleus and Cortical Activity: A Simultaneous Intracranial and Scalp EEG Study


It has been suggested that slow oscillations in the subthalamic nucleus (STN) reflect top-down inputs from the medial prefrontal cortex, thus implementing behavior control. It is unclear, however, whether the STN oscillations are related to cortical activity in a bottom-up manner. To assess resting-state subcortico-cortical interactions, we recorded simultaneous scalp electroencephalographic activity and local field potentials in the STN (LFP-STN) in 11 patients with Parkinson’s disease implanted with deep brain stimulation electrodes in the on-medication state during rest. We assessed the cross-structural phase-amplitude coupling (PAC) between the STN and cortical activity within a wide frequency range of 1 to 100 Hz. The PAC was dominant between the δ/θ STN phase and β/γ cortical amplitude in most investigated scalp regions and between the δ cortical phase and θ/α STN amplitude in the frontal and temporal regions. The cross-frequency linkage between the slow oscillations of the LFP-STN activity and the amplitude of the scalp-recorded cortical activity at rest was demonstrated, and similar involvement of the left and right STNs in the coupling was observed. Our results suggest that the STN plays a role in both bottom-up and top-down processes within the subcortico-cortical circuitries of the human brain during the resting state. A relative left–right symmetry in the STN-cortex functional linkage was suggested. Practical treatment studies would be necessary to assess whether unilateral stimulation of the STN might be sufficient for treatment of Parkinson’s disease.

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Availability of Data and Material

The data and material that support the findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.

Code Availability

The custom in-house MATLAB code is available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request. CARTOOL software by Denis Brunet is freely available


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The authors wish to thank Anne Johnson for providing language help.


The study was financially supported by the Czech Science Foundation Grant 21-25953S, by Grants FNS 192749 and CRSII5_170873, and by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports of the Czech Republic within the CEITEC 2020 (LQ1601) project.

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Authors and Affiliations



A.D. designed the study, collected and pre-processed the data, and wrote the initial draft of the manuscript. M.L. analyzed the data. D.B. and S.V. served as consultants for the data analysis and clinical issues, respectively. B.D., M.Ba, and M.Bo collected the data. I.R. developed the initial idea. All authors reviewed the manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Alena Damborská.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

Ethics Approval and Consent to Participate

All participants gave their written informed consent prior to the experiment and the study received the approval of the ethics committee of St. Anne’s Hospital in Brno. All experiments in this study were performed in accordance with relevant guidelines and regulations.

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Each author has read the complete manuscript and concurs with its content and publication.

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Supplementary material 1 (PNG 854 kb) Supplementary Figure 1. Organization of selected scalp electrodes into regional sets. The data from 53 electrodes were pooled into 13 regions: Frontal-Left, Temporal-Left, Central-Left, Parietal-Left, Occipital-Left, Frontal-Right, Temporal-Right, Central-Right, Parietal-Right, Occipital-Right, Frontal, Parietal, Occipital

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Damborská, A., Lamoš, M., Brunet, D. et al. Resting-State Phase-Amplitude Coupling Between the Human Subthalamic Nucleus and Cortical Activity: A Simultaneous Intracranial and Scalp EEG Study. Brain Topogr 34, 272–282 (2021).

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  • Subthalamic nucleus
  • Subcortico-cortical interactions
  • Phase-amplitude coupling
  • Cross-structural coupling
  • Simultaneous intracranial and scalp EEG