Spatial and temporal properties of tic-related neuronal activity in the cortico-basal ganglia loop

Maya Bronfeld, Katya Belelovsky, Izhar Bar-Gad

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Motor tics are involuntary brief muscle contractions that interfere with ongoing behavior and appear as a symptom in several human disorders. While the pathophysiology of tics is still largely unknown, multiple lines of evidence suggest the involvement of the cortico-basal ganglialoopinticdisorders.Weadministered local microinjectionsofbicucullineinto theputamen ofMacacafascicularismonkeys to induce motor tics, while simultaneously recording neuronal activity from the primary motor cortex, putamen, and globus pallidus. These data were used to explore the spatial and temporal properties of tic-related neuronal activity within the cortico-basal ganglia system.Inthe putamen,ticswereassociated withbrief burstsofactivityofphasically activeneurons (presumablythe projectionneurons) and complex excitation-inhibition patterns of tonically active neurons. Tic-related activity within the putamen was spatially focused and somatotopically organized. In the globus pallidus, tic-related activity was diffusely distributed throughout the motor territory. Tic-related activity in the putamen usually preceded the tic-related activationsin the cortex, but in the globus pallidus, tic-related activity was mostly later than the cortex. These findings shed new light on the role of the different basal ganglia nuclei in the generation of motor tics. Despite the early and somatotopically focused natureof tic-related activityinthe input stage of the basal ganglia, tic-related activity in the output nucleus is temporally late and diffusely distributed, making it incompatible with a role in tic initiation. Instead, abnormal basal ganglia activity may serve to modulate motor patterns or activate learning mechanisms, thus augmenting further tic expression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8713-8721
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number24
StatePublished - 15 Jun 2011


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