Movement disorders of basal ganglia origin may arise from abnormalities in synchronized oscillatory activity in a network that includes the basal ganglia, thalamus and motor cortices. In humans, much has been learned from the study of basal ganglia local field potentials recorded from temporarily externalized deep brain stimulator electrodes. These studies have led to the theory that Parkinson's disease has characteristic alterations in the beta frequency band (13–30Hz) in the basal ganglia–thalamocortical network. However, different disorders have rarely been compared using recordings in the same structure under the same behavioural conditions, limiting straightforward assessment of current hypotheses. To address this, we utilized subdural electrocorticography to study cortical oscillations in the three most common movement disorders: Parkinson's disease, primary dystonia and essential tremor. We recorded local field potentials from the arm area of primary motor and sensory cortices in 31 subjects using strip electrodes placed temporarily during routine surgery for deep brain stimulator placement. We show that: (i) primary motor cortex broadband gamma power is increased in Parkinson's disease compared with the other conditions, both at rest and during a movement task; (ii) primary motor cortex high beta (20–30Hz) power is increased in Parkinson's disease during the ‘stop’ phase of a movement task; (iii) the alpha–beta peaks in the motor and sensory cortical power spectra occur at higher frequencies in Parkinson's disease than in the other two disorders; and (iv) patients with dystonia have impaired movement-related beta band desynchronization in primary motor and sensory cortices. The findings support the emerging hypothesis that disease states reflect abnormalities in synchronized oscillatory activity. This is the first study of sensorimotor cortex local field potentials in the three most common movement disorders.
Keywords: Parkinson's disease, dystonia, essential tremor, electrocorticography, primary motor cortex