Higher neuronal discharge rate in the motor area of the subthalamic nucleus of parkinsonian patients

Marc Deffains, Peter Holland, Shay Moshel, Fernando Ramirez de Noriega, Hagai Bergman, Zvi Israel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


In Parkinson’s disease, pathological synchronous oscillations divide the subthalamic nucleus (STN) of patients into a dorsolateral oscillatory region and ventromedial nonoscillatory region. This bipartite division reflects the motor vs. the nonmotor (associative/limbic) subthalamic areas, respectively. However, significant topographic differences in the neuronal discharge rate between these two STN subregions in Parkinsonian patients is still controversial. In this study, 119 STN microelectrode trajectories (STN length  2 mm, mean  5.32 mm) with discernible oscillatory and nonoscillatory regions were carried on 60 patients undergoing deep brain stimulation surgery for Parkinson’s disease. 2,137 and 2,152 multiunit stable signals were recorded (recording duration  10 s, mean  21.25 s) within the oscillatory and nonoscillatory STN regions, respectively. Spike detection and sorting were applied offline on every multiunit stable signal using an automatic method with systematic quantification of the isolation quality (range  0–1) of the identified units. In all, 3,094 and 3,130 units were identified in the oscillatory and nonoscillatory regions, respectively. On average, the discharge rate of better-isolated neurons (isolation score  0.70) was higher in the oscillatory region than the nonoscillatory region (44.55  0.87 vs. 39.97  0.77 spikes/s, N  665 and 761, respectively). The discharge rate of the STN neurons was positively correlated to the strength of their own and their surrounding 13- to 30-Hz beta oscillatory activity. Therefore, in the Parkinsonian STN, beta oscillations and higher neuronal discharge rate are correlated and coexist in the motor area of the STN compared with its associative/limbic area.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1409-1420
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Neurophysiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 15 Sep 2014
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 by the American Physiological Society.


  • Deep brain stimulation
  • Microelectrode recording
  • Neuronal discharge
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Subthalamic nucleus


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