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1.  Contrasting roles for dopamine D1- and D2-receptor subtypes in the dorsomedial striatum but not the nucleus accumbens core during behavioral inhibition in the stop-signal task in rats 
Dopamine and dopamine-receptor function are often implicated in behavioral inhibition, and deficiencies within behavioral inhibition processes linked to ADHD, schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder and drug addiction. In the stop-signal task, which measures the speed of the process of inhibition (stop-signal reaction time, SSRT), psychostimulant-related improvement of SSRT in ADHD is linked with dopamine function. However, the precise nature of dopaminergic control over SSRT remains unclear.
This study examined region- and receptor-specific modulation of SSRT in the rat using direct infusions, into the dorsomedial striatum (DMStr) or nucleus accumbens core (NAcbC), of the dopamine D1-receptor (DRD1) antagonist SCH 23390 or dopamine D2-receptor (DRD2) antagonist sulpiride. DRD1 and DRD2 antagonists had contrasting effects on SSRT that were specific to the DMStr. SCH 23390 decreased SSRT with little effect on the go response. Conversely, sulpiride increased SSRT but also increased go-trial reaction time and reduced trial completion at the highest doses. These results suggest that DRD1 and DRD2 function within the DMStr, but not the NAcbC, may act to balance behavioral inhibition in a manner that is independent of behavioral activation.
PMCID: PMC3173842  PMID: 21593319
stopping; SSRT; caudate; ADHD; schizophrenia; OCD
2.  The subthalamic nucleus keeps you high on emotion: behavioral consequences of its inactivation 
The subthalamic nucleus (STN) belongs to the basal ganglia and is the current target for the surgical treatment of neurological and psychiatric disorders such as Parkinson’s Disease (PD) and obsessive compulsive disorders (OCD), but also a proposed site for the treatment of addiction. It is therefore very important to understand its functions in order to anticipate and prevent possible side-effects in the patients. Although the involvement of the STN is well documented in motor, cognitive and motivational processes, less is known regarding emotional processes. Here we have investigated the direct consequences of STN inactivation by excitotoxic lesions on emotional processing and reinforcement in the rat. We have used various behavioral procedures to assess affect for neutral, positive and negative reinforcers in STN lesioned rats. STN lesions reduced affective responses for positive (sweet solutions) and negative (electric foot shock, Lithium Chloride-induced sickness) reinforcers while they had no effect on responses for a more neutral reinforcer (novelty induced place preference (NIPP)). Furthermore, when given the choice between saccharine, a sweet but non caloric solution, and glucose, a more bland but caloric solution, in contrast to sham animals that preferred saccharine, STN lesioned animals preferred glucose over saccharine. Taken altogether these results reveal that STN plays a critical role in emotional processing. These results, in line with some clinical observations in PD patients subjected to STN surgery, suggest possible emotional side-effects of treatments targeting the STN. They also suggest that the increased motivation for sucrose previously reported cannot be due to increased pleasure, but could be responsible for the decreased motivation for cocaine reported after STN inactivation.
PMCID: PMC4257083  PMID: 25538581
basal ganglia; emotion; taste reactivity; conditioned fear; ultrasonic vocalization; conditioned place avoidance; novelty-induced place preference; glucose vs. saccharine choice
3.  Basal ganglia dysfunction in OCD: subthalamic neuronal activity correlates with symptoms severity and predicts high-frequency stimulation efficacy 
Translational Psychiatry  2011;1(5):e5-.
Functional and connectivity changes in corticostriatal systems have been reported in the brains of patients with obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD); however, the relationship between basal ganglia activity and OCD severity has never been adequately established. We recently showed that deep brain stimulation of the subthalamic nucleus (STN), a central basal ganglia nucleus, improves OCD. Here, single-unit subthalamic neuronal activity was analysed in 12 OCD patients, in relation to the severity of obsessions and compulsions and response to STN stimulation, and compared with that obtained in 12 patients with Parkinson's disease (PD). STN neurons in OCD patients had lower discharge frequency than those in PD patients, with a similar proportion of burst-type activity (69 vs 67%). Oscillatory activity was present in 46 and 68% of neurons in OCD and PD patients, respectively, predominantly in the low-frequency band (1–8 Hz). In OCD patients, the bursty and oscillatory subthalamic neuronal activity was mainly located in the associative–limbic part. Both OCD severity and clinical improvement following STN stimulation were related to the STN neuronal activity. In patients with the most severe OCD, STN neurons exhibited bursts with shorter duration and interburst interval, but higher intraburst frequency, and more oscillations in the low-frequency bands. In patients with best clinical outcome with STN stimulation, STN neurons displayed higher mean discharge, burst and intraburst frequencies, and lower interburst interval. These findings are consistent with the hypothesis of a dysfunction in the associative–limbic subdivision of the basal ganglia circuitry in OCD's pathophysiology.
PMCID: PMC3309476  PMID: 22832400
subthalamic nucleus; neuronal activity; obsessive–compusive disorders; Parkinson's disease; deep brain stimulation
4.  Stimulation of the Subthalamic Nucleus and Impulsivity 
Annals of neurology  2009;66(6):817-824.
In Parkinson disease (PD) patients, deep brain stimulation (DBS) of the subthalamic nucleus (STN) may contribute to certain impulsive behavior during high-conflict decisions. A neurocomputational model of the basal ganglia has recently been proposed that suggests this behavioral aspect may be related to the role played by the STN in relaying a “hold your horses” signal intended to allow more time to settle on the best option. The aim of the present study was 2-fold: 1) to extend these observations by providing evidence that the STN may influence and prevent the execution of any response even during low-conflict decisions; and 2) to identify the neural correlates of this effect.
We measured regional cerebral blood flow during a Go/NoGo and a control (Go) task to study the motor improvement and response inhibition deficits associated with STN-DBS in patients with PD.
Although it improved Unified Parkinson Disease Rating Scale motor ratings and induced a global decrease in reaction time during task performance, STN-DBS impaired response inhibition, as revealed by an increase in commission errors in NoGo trials. These behavioral effects were accompanied by changes in synaptic activity consisting of a reduced activation in the cortical networks responsible for reactive and proactive response inhibition.
The present results suggest that although it improves motor functions in PD patients, modulation of STN hyperactivity with DBS may tend at the same time to favor the appearance of impulsive behavior by acting on the gating mechanism involved in response initiation.
PMCID: PMC2972250  PMID: 20035509 CAMSID: cams1535
5.  Mechanisms of deep brain stimulation for obsessive compulsive disorder: effects upon cells and circuits 
Deep brain stimulation (DBS) has emerged as a safe, effective, and reversible treatment for a number of movement disorders. This has prompted investigation of its use for other applications including psychiatric disorders. In recent years, DBS has been introduced for the treatment of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), which is characterized by recurrent unwanted thoughts or ideas (obsessions) and repetitive behaviors or mental acts performed in order to relieve these obsessions (compulsions). Abnormal activity in cortico-striato-thalamo-cortical (CSTC) circuits including the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), ventral striatum, and mediodorsal (MD) thalamus has been implicated in OCD. To this end a number of DBS targets including the anterior limb of the internal capsule (ALIC), ventral capsule/ventral striatum (VC/VS), ventral caudate nucleus, subthalamic nucleus (STN), and nucleus accumbens (NAc) have been investigated for the treatment of OCD. Despite its efficacy and widespread use in movement disorders, the mechanism of DBS is not fully understood, especially as it relates to psychiatric disorders. While initially thought to create a functional lesion akin to ablative procedures, it is increasingly clear that DBS may induce clinical benefit through activation of axonal fibers spanning the CSTC circuits, alteration of oscillatory activity within this network, and/or release of critical neurotransmitters. In this article we review how the use of DBS for OCD informs our understanding of both the mechanisms of DBS and the circuitry of OCD. We review the literature on DBS for OCD and discuss potential mechanisms of action at the neuronal level as well as the broader circuit level.
PMCID: PMC3375018  PMID: 22712007
deep brain stimulation; obsessive compulsive disorder; neuromodulation; cortico-striato-thalamocortical circuit
6.  Imaging Impulsivity in Parkinson's Disease and the Contribution of the Subthalamic Nucleus 
Parkinson's Disease  2011;2011:594860.
Taking risks is a natural human response, but, in some, risk taking is compulsive and may be detrimental. The subthalamic nucleus (STN) is thought to play a large role in our ability to inhibit responses. Differences between individuals' ability to inhibit inappropriate responses may underlie both the normal variation in trait impulsivity in the healthy population, as well as the pathological compulsions experienced by those with impulse control disorders (ICDs). Thus, we review the role of the STN in response inhibition, with a particular focus on studies employing imaging methodology. We also review the latest evidence that disruption of the function of the STN by deep brain stimulation in patients with Parkinson's disease can increase impulsivity.
PMCID: PMC3135010  PMID: 21765999
7.  Parkinsonian Beta Oscillations in the External Globus Pallidus and Their Relationship with Subthalamic Nucleus Activity 
Inappropriately synchronized beta (β) oscillations (15–30 Hz) in the subthalamic nucleus (STN) accompany movement difficulties in idiopathic Parkinson’s disease (PD). The cellular and network substrates underlying these exaggerated β oscillations are unknown but activity in the external globus pallidus (GP), which forms a candidate pacemaker network with STN, might be of particular importance. Using a clinically relevant rat model of PD, we demonstrate that oscillatory activity in GP neuronal networks becomes excessively and selectively synchronized at β frequencies in a spatially widespread and brain state-dependent manner after lesion of dopamine neurons. Although synchronization of GP unit activity increased by almost 100-fold during β oscillations, the mean firing rate of GP neurons decreased compared with controls. Importantly, in parkinsonian animals, two main types of GP neuron were identified according to their distinct and inversely related firing rates and patterns. Moreover, neurons of the same type tended to fire together, with small phase differences, whereas different types of neuron tended not to do so. This functional dichotomy in temporal coupling persisted across extreme brain states, suggesting that maladaptive interactions are dominated by hard wiring. Finally, the precisely timed discharges of GP and STN neurons indicated that rhythmic sequences of recurrent excitation and inhibition in the STN-GP network, and lateral inhibition between GP neurons, could actively support abnormal β oscillations. We propose that GP neurons, by virtue of their spatiotemporal synchronization, widespread axon collaterals and feed-back/feed-forward mechanisms, are well placed to orchestrate and propagate exaggerated β oscillations throughout the entire basal ganglia in PD.
PMCID: PMC4243385  PMID: 19109506
globus pallidus; subthalamic nucleus; basal ganglia; Parkinson’s disease; dopamine; 6-hydroxydopamine
8.  Probing Compulsive and Impulsive Behaviors, from Animal Models to Endophenotypes: A Narrative Review 
Neuropsychopharmacology  2009;35(3):591-604.
Failures in cortical control of fronto-striatal neural circuits may underpin impulsive and compulsive acts. In this narrative review, we explore these behaviors from the perspective of neural processes and consider how these behaviors and neural processes contribute to mental disorders such as obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD), obsessive–compulsive personality disorder, and impulse-control disorders such as trichotillomania and pathological gambling. We present findings from a broad range of data, comprising translational and human endophenotypes research and clinical treatment trials, focussing on the parallel, functionally segregated, cortico-striatal neural projections, from orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) to medial striatum (caudate nucleus), proposed to drive compulsive activity, and from the anterior cingulate/ventromedial prefrontal cortex to the ventral striatum (nucleus accumbens shell), proposed to drive impulsive activity, and the interaction between them. We suggest that impulsivity and compulsivity each seem to be multidimensional. Impulsive or compulsive behaviors are mediated by overlapping as well as distinct neural substrates. Trichotillomania may stand apart as a disorder of motor-impulse control, whereas pathological gambling involves abnormal ventral reward circuitry that identifies it more closely with substance addiction. OCD shows motor impulsivity and compulsivity, probably mediated through disruption of OFC-caudate circuitry, as well as other frontal, cingulate, and parietal connections. Serotonin and dopamine interact across these circuits to modulate aspects of both impulsive and compulsive responding and as yet unidentified brain-based systems may also have important functions. Targeted application of neurocognitive tasks, receptor-specific neurochemical probes, and brain systems neuroimaging techniques have potential for future research in this field.
PMCID: PMC3055606  PMID: 19940844
impulsive; compulsive; endophenotypes; serotonin; dopamine; Cognition; Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences; Animal models; Biological Psychiatry; OCD; impulsivity; compulsivity; translational
9.  Abnormal corticostriatal-limbic functional connectivity in obsessive–compulsive disorder during reward processing and resting-state☆ 
NeuroImage : Clinical  2013;3:27-38.
Compulsive behaviors in obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD) may be related to deficits in reward processing mediated by corticostriatal circuitry, a brain network implicated in the pathophysiology of OCD. Performing compulsive actions can be perceived as a reward to OCD patients because it temporarily reduces the anxiety provoked by obsessions. Although most OCD literature provides evidence of altered regional activity in these corticostriatal circuits, very little is known about the connectivity between individual regions of the corticostriatal-limbic circuits, including the cognitive and affective neural circuitry associated with OCD. Thus, this study investigated the differences in functional connectivity (FC) patterns in this network during resting-state and incentive processing. Nineteen patients with OCD and 18 well-matched healthy controls were scanned during resting-state and a monetary incentive delay task (task state). FC was assessed using both voxel-wise and region-of-interest (ROI)-wise analyses. Voxel-wise FC analysis with the nucleus accumbens seed revealed that patients with OCD exhibited increased FC between the nucleus accumbens and the lateral orbitofrontal cortex during resting-state. Additionally, these patients showed decreased FC between the nucleus accumbens and limbic areas such as the amygdala during incentive processing. Exploratory ROI-wise FC analysis revealed that OCD patients demonstrated enhanced FC between the nucleus accumbens and the lateral orbitofrontal cortex and increased total connectivity of the lateral orbitofrontal cortex during resting-state. Additionally, patients showed alterations in FC between resting and task state. This study provides evidence that patients with OCD have altered FC in the corticostriatal-limbic network, particularly in striatal-amygdala and striatal-orbitofrontal circuitry, during incentive processing and resting-state. These findings also emphasize that functional connections in the network are modulated by affective/motivational states and further suggest that OCD patients may have abnormalities of such modulation in this network.
•Corticostriatal-limbic FC analysis of task-based and resting-state fMRI data in OCD•Dysfunctional connectivity in striatal–amygdala during reward task in OCD•Dysfunctional connectivity in striatal–orbitofrontal cortex at rest in OCD•FC levels in corticostriatal-limbic network are modulated by affective state.•OCD patients have deficits in this modulation of the corticostriatal-limbic network.
PMCID: PMC3791288  PMID: 24179846
Corticostriatal circuitry; Functional connectivity; Obsessive–compulsive disorder; Reward; Resting-state
10.  Lesions of the Medial Prefrontal Cortex Abolish Conditioned Aversion Associated with Sexual Behavior in Male Rats 
Biological psychiatry  2010;67(12):1199-1204.
An inability to inhibit behaviors once they become maladaptive is a component of several psychiatric illnesses and the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) was identified as a potential mediator of behavioral inhibition. The current study tested if the mPFC is involved in inhibition of sexual behavior when associated with aversive outcomes.
Using male rats, effects of lesions of the infralimbic (IL) and prelimbic (PL) areas of the mPFC on expression of sexual behavior and ability to inhibit mating were tested using a paradigm of copulation-contingent aversion.
mPFC lesions did not alter expression of sexual behavior. In contrast, mPFC lesions completely blocked the acquisition of sex-aversion conditioning and lesioned animals continued to mate, in contrast to the robust behavioral inhibition towards copulation in mPFC intact males, resulting in only 22% of intact males continuing to mate. However, rats with mPFC lesions were capable of forming a conditioned place preference to sexual reward and conditioned place aversion for lithium chloride, suggesting that these lesions did not alter associative learning or sensitivity for lithium chloride.
The current study indicates that animals with mPFC lesions are likely capable of forming the associations with aversive outcomes of their behavior, but lack the ability to suppress seeking of sexual reward in the face of aversive consequences. These data may contribute to a better understanding of a common pathology underlying impulse control disorders as compulsive sexual behavior has a high prevalence of comorbidity with psychiatric disorders and Parkinson’s Disease.
PMCID: PMC2908911  PMID: 20346444
Prefrontal Cortex; Inhibition; Mating; Conditioned; Reward; Aversion; Addiction; Sex
11.  The Prefrontal Cortex Achieves Inhibitory Control by Facilitating Subcortical Motor Pathway Connectivity 
The Journal of Neuroscience  2015;35(2):786-794.
Communication between the prefrontal cortex and subcortical nuclei underpins the control and inhibition of behavior. However, the interactions in such pathways remain controversial. Using a stop-signal response inhibition task and functional imaging with analysis of effective connectivity, we show that the lateral prefrontal cortex influences the strength of communication between regions in the frontostriatal motor system. We compared 20 generative models that represented alternative interactions between the inferior frontal gyrus, presupplementary motor area (preSMA), subthalamic nucleus (STN), and primary motor cortex during response inhibition. Bayesian model selection revealed that during successful response inhibition, the inferior frontal gyrus modulates an excitatory influence of the preSMA on the STN, thereby amplifying the downstream polysynaptic inhibition from the STN to the motor cortex. Critically, the strength of the interaction between preSMA and STN, and the degree of modulation by the inferior frontal gyrus, predicted individual differences in participants' stopping performance (stop-signal reaction time). We then used diffusion-weighted imaging with tractography to assess white matter structure in the pathways connecting these three regions. The mean diffusivity in tracts between preSMA and the STN, and between the inferior frontal gyrus and STN, also predicted individual differences in stopping efficiency. Finally, we found that white matter structure in the tract between preSMA and STN correlated with effective connectivity of the same pathway, providing important cross-modal validation of the effective connectivity measures. Together, the results demonstrate the network dynamics and modulatory role of the prefrontal cortex that underpin individual differences in inhibitory control.
PMCID: PMC4293423  PMID: 25589771
diffusion MRI tractography; dynamic causal modelling; inferior frontal gyrus; presupplementary motor area; response inhibition; stop-signal task
12.  Deranged NMDAergic cortico-subthalamic transmission underlies parkinsonian motor deficits 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2014;124(10):4629-4641.
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is the most prevalent hypokinetic movement disorder, and symptomatic PD pathogenesis has been ascribed to imbalances between the direct and indirect pathways in the basal ganglia circuitry. Here, we applied glutamate receptor blockers to the subthalamic nucleus (STN) of parkinsonian rats and evaluated locomotor behaviors via single-unit and local-field recordings. Using this model, we found that inhibition of NMDAergic cortico-subthalamic transmission ameliorates parkinsonian motor deficits without eliciting any vivid turning behavior and abolishes electrophysiological abnormalities, including excessive subthalamic bursts, cortico-subthalamic synchronization, and in situ beta synchronization in both the motor cortex and STN. Premotor cortex stimulation revealed that cortico-subthalamic transmission is deranged in PD and directly responsible for the excessive stimulation-dependent bursts and time-locked spikes in the STN, explaining the genesis of PD-associated pathological bursts and synchronization, respectively. Moreover, application of a dopaminergic agent via a microinfusion cannula localized the therapeutic effect to the STN, without correcting striatal dopamine deficiency. Finally, optogenetic overactivation and synchronization of cortico-subthalamic transmission alone sufficiently and instantaneously induced parkinsonian-associated locomotor dysfunction in normal mice. In addition to the classic theory emphasizing the direct-indirect pathways, our data suggest that deranged cortico-subthalamic transmission via the NMDA receptor also plays a central role in the pathophysiology of parkinsonian motor deficits.
PMCID: PMC4191009  PMID: 25202982
13.  Asymmetric right/left encoding of emotions in the human subthalamic nucleus 
Emotional processing is lateralized to the non-dominant brain hemisphere. However, there is no clear spatial model for lateralization of emotional domains in the basal ganglia. The subthalamic nucleus (STN), an input structure in the basal ganglia network, plays a major role in the pathophysiology of Parkinson's disease (PD). This role is probably not limited only to the motor deficits of PD, but may also span the emotional and cognitive deficits commonly observed in PD patients. Beta oscillations (12–30 Hz), the electrophysiological signature of PD, are restricted to the dorsolateral part of the STN that corresponds to the anatomically defined sensorimotor STN. The more medial, more anterior and more ventral parts of the STN are thought to correspond to the anatomically defined limbic and associative territories of the STN. Surprisingly, little is known about the electrophysiological properties of the non-motor domains of the STN, nor about electrophysiological differences between right and left STNs. In this study, microelectrodes were utilized to record the STN spontaneous spiking activity and responses to vocal non-verbal emotional stimuli during deep brain stimulation (DBS) surgeries in human PD patients. The oscillation properties of the STN neurons were used to map the dorsal oscillatory and the ventral non-oscillatory regions of the STN. Emotive auditory stimulation evoked activity in the ventral non-oscillatory region of the right STN. These responses were not observed in the left ventral STN or in the dorsal regions of either the right or left STN. Therefore, our results suggest that the ventral non-oscillatory regions are asymmetrically associated with non-motor functions, with the right ventral STN associated with emotional processing. These results suggest that DBS of the right ventral STN may be associated with beneficial or adverse emotional effects observed in PD patients and may relieve mental symptoms in other neurological and psychiatric diseases.
PMCID: PMC3810611  PMID: 24194703
Parkinson's disease; deep brain stimulation (DBS); emotions; subthalamic nucleus; spikes
14.  Proliferation of external globus pallidus-subthalamic nucleus synapses following degeneration of midbrain dopamine neurons 
The symptoms of Parkinson’s disease (PD) are related to changes in the frequency and pattern of activity in the reciprocally connected GABAergic external globus pallidus (GPe) and glutamatergic subthalamic nucleus (STN). In idiopathic and experimental PD the GPe and STN exhibit hypo- and hyper-activity, respectively, and abnormal synchronous rhythmic burst firing. Following lesion of midbrain dopamine neurons abnormal STN activity emerges slowly and intensifies gradually until it stabilizes after 2–3 weeks. Alterations in cellular/network properties may therefore underlie the expression of abnormal firing. Because the GPe powerfully regulates the frequency, pattern and synchronization of STN activity, electrophysiological, molecular and anatomical measures of GPe-STN transmission were compared in the STN of control and 6-hydroxydopamine-lesioned rats and mice. Following dopamine depletion: 1) the frequency (but not the amplitude) of mIPSCs increased by ~70%; 2) the amplitude of evoked IPSCs and isoguvacine-evoked current increased by ~60% and ~70%, respectively; 3) mRNA encoding α1, β2 and γ2 GABAA receptor subunits increased by 15–30%; 4) the density of postsynaptic gephyrin and γ2 subunit co-immunoreactive structures increased by ~40%, whereas the density of vesicular GABA transporter and bassoon co-immunoreactive axon terminals was unchanged; 5) the number of ultrastructurally defined synapses per GPe-STN axon terminal doubled with no alteration in terminal/synapse size or target preference. Thus, loss of dopamine leads, through an increase in the number of synaptic connections per GPe-STN axon terminal, to substantial strengthening of the GPe-STN pathway. This adaptation may oppose hyperactivity but could also contribute to abnormal firing patterns in the parkinsonian STN.
PMCID: PMC3475197  PMID: 23035084
15.  Inhibitory control and error monitoring by human subthalamic neurons 
Translational Psychiatry  2014;4(9):e439-.
The subthalamic nucleus (STN) has been shown to be implicated in the control of voluntary action, especially during tasks involving conflicting choice alternatives or rapid response suppression. However, the precise role of the STN during nonmotor functions remains controversial. First, we tested whether functionally distinct neuronal populations support different executive control functions (such as inhibitory control or error monitoring) even within a single subterritory of the STN. We used microelectrode recordings during deep brain stimulation surgery to study extracellular activity of the putative associative-limbic part of the STN while patients with severe obsessive-compulsive disorder performed a stop-signal task. Second, 2–4 days after the surgery, local field potential recordings of STN were used to test the hypothesis that STN oscillations may also reflect executive control signals. Extracellular recordings revealed three functionally distinct neuronal populations: the first one fired selectively before and during motor responses, the second one selectively increased their firing rate during successful inhibitory control, and the last one fired selectively during error monitoring. Furthermore, we found that beta band activity (15–35 Hz) rapidly increased during correct and incorrect behavioral stopping. Taken together, our results provide critical electrophysiological support for the hypothesized role of the STN in the integration of motor and cognitive-executive control functions.
PMCID: PMC4203004  PMID: 25203170
16.  Functional anatomy of subthalamic nucleus stimulation in Parkinson disease 
Annals of neurology  2014;76(2):279-295.
We developed a novel method to map behavioral effects of deep brain stimulation (DBS) across a 3D brain region and to assign statistical significance after stringent Type I error correction. This method was applied to behavioral changes in Parkinson disease (PD) induced by subthalamic nucleus (STN) DBS to determine whether these responses depended on anatomical location of DBS.
Fifty-one PD participants with STN DBS were evaluated off medication, with DBS off and during unilateral STN DBS with clinically optimized settings. Dependent variables included DBS-induced changes in Unified Parkinson Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS) subscores, kinematic measures of bradykinesia and rigidity, working memory, response inhibition, mood, anxiety, and akathisia. Weighted t-tests at each voxel produced p images showing where DBS most significantly affected each dependent variable based on outcomes of participants with nearby DBS. Finally, a permutation test computed the probability that this p image indicated significantly different responses based on stimulation site.
Most motor variables improved with DBS anywhere in the STN region, but several motor, cognitive and affective responses significantly depended on precise location stimulated, with peak p values in superior STN/zona incerta (quantified bradykinesia), dorsal STN (mood, anxiety), and inferior STN/substantia nigra (UPDRS tremor, working memory).
Our method identified DBS-induced behavioral changes that depended significantly on DBS site. These results do not support complete functional segregation within STN, since movement improved with DBS throughout, and mood improved with dorsal STN DBS. Rather, findings support functional convergence of motor, cognitive and limbic information in STN.
PMCID: PMC4172323  PMID: 24953991
17.  An examination of the effects of subthalamic nucleus inhibition or μ-opioid receptor stimulation on food-directed motivation in the non-deprived rat 
Behavioural Brain Research  2012;230(2):365-373.
The subthalamic nucleus (STN) serves important functions in regulating movement, cognition, and motivation and is connected with cortical and basal ganglia circuits that process reward and reinforcement. In order to further examine the role of the STN on motivation toward food in non-deprived rats, these experiments studied the effects of pharmacological inhibition or μ-opioid receptor stimulation of the STN on the 2-hr intake of a sweetened fat diet, the amount of work exerted to earn sucrose on a progressive ratio 2 (PR-2) schedule of reinforcement, and performance on a differential reinforcement of low-rate responding (DRL) schedule for sucrose reward. Separate behavioral groups (N = 6–9) were tested following bilateral inhibition of the STN with the GABAA receptor agonist muscimol (at 0–5 ng/0.5 μl/side) or following μ-opioid receptor stimulation with the agonist D-Ala2, N-MePhe4, Gly-ol-enkephalin (DAMGO; at 0, 0.025 or 0.25 μg/0.5 μl/side). Although STN inhibition increased ambulatory behavior during 2-hr feeding sessions, it did not significantly alter intake of the sweetened fat diet. STN inhibition also did not affect the breakpoint for sucrose pellets during a 1-hr PR-2 reinforcement schedule or impact the number of reinforcers earned on a 1-hr DRL-20 sec reinforcement schedule in non-deprived rats. In contrast, STN μ-opioid receptor stimulation significantly increased feeding on the palatable diet and reduced the reinforcers earned on a DRL-20 schedule, although DAMGO microinfusions had no effect on PR-2 performance. These data suggest that STN inhibition does not enhance incentive motivation for food in the absence of food restriction and that STN μ-opioid receptors play an important and unique role in motivational processes.
PMCID: PMC3322281  PMID: 22391117
Subthalamic nucleus; motivation; opioids; food intake; reward
18.  Deep brain stimulation of the subthalamic nucleus alters the cortical profile of response inhibition in the beta frequency band: a scalp EEG study in Parkinson's disease 
Stopping an initiated response could be implemented by a fronto-basal-ganglia circuit, including the right inferior frontal cortex (rIFC) and the subthalamic nucleus (STN). Intracranial recording studies in humans reveal an increase in beta-band power (~16-20 Hz) within the rIFC and STN when a response is stopped. This suggests that the beta-band could be important for communication in this network. If this is the case, then altering one region should affect the electrophysiological response at the other. We addressed this hypothesis by recording scalp EEG during a stop task while modulating STN activity with deep brain stimulation. We studied 15 human patients with Parkinson's Disease and 15 matched healthy control subjects. Behaviorally, patients OFF stimulation were slower than controls to stop their response. Moreover, stopping speed was improved for ON compared to OFF stimulation. For scalp EEG, there was greater beta power, around the time of stopping, for patients ON compared to OFF stimulation. This effect was stronger over the right compared to left frontal cortex, consistent with the putative right-lateralization of the stopping network. Thus, deep brain stimulation of the STN improved behavioral stopping performance and increased the beta-band response over the right frontal cortex. These results complement other evidence for a structurally-connected, functional, circuit between right frontal cortex and the basal ganglia. The results also suggest that deep brain stimulation of the STN may improve task performance by increasing the fidelity of information transfer within a fronto-basal ganglia circuit.
PMCID: PMC3086079  PMID: 21490213
cognitive control; time-frequency analysis; stop signal task; basal ganglia
19.  Subthalamic Nucleus Stimulation Increases Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor in the Nigrostriatal System and Primary Motor Cortex 
Journal of Parkinson's disease  2011;1(1):123-136.
The mechanisms underlying the effects of long-term deep brain stimulation of the subthalamic nucleus (STN DBS) as a therapy for Parkinson’s disease (PD) remain poorly understood. The present study examined whether functionally effective, long-term STN DBS modulates glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) and/or brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in both unlesioned and unilateral 6-hydroxydopamine lesioned rats. Lesioned rats that received two weeks of continuous unilateral STN DBS exhibited significant improvements in parkinsonian motor behaviors in tests of forelimb akinesia and rearing activity. Unilateral STN DBS did not increase GDNF in the nigrostriatal system, primary motor cortex (M1), or hippocampus of unlesioned rats. In contrast, unilateral STN DBS increased BDNF protein 2–3 fold bilaterally in the nigrostriatal system with the location (substantia nigra vs. striatum) dependent upon lesion status. Further, BDNF protein was bilaterally increased in M1 cortex by as much as 2 fold regardless of lesion status. STN DBS did not impact cortical regions that receive less input from the STN. STN DBS also was associated with bilateral increases in BDNF mRNA in the substantia nigra (SN) and internal globus pallidus (GPi). The increase observed in GPi was completely blocked by pretreatment with 5-Methyl-10,11-dihydro-5 H-dibenzo[a,d]cyclohepten-5,10-imine (MK-801), suggesting that the activation of N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors was involved in this phenomenon. The upregulation of BDNF associated with long term STN DBS suggest that this therapy may exert pronounced and underappreciated effects on plasticity in the basal ganglia circuitry that may play a role in the symptomatic effects of this therapy as well as support the neuroprotective effect of stimulation documented in this rat model.
PMCID: PMC3275429  PMID: 22328911
Deep brain stimulation; Parkinson’s disease; basal ganglia; trophic factors
20.  Effects of deep brain stimulation of the subthalamic nucleus on inhibitory and executive control over prepotent responses in Parkinson's disease 
Inhibition of inappropriate, habitual or prepotent responses is an essential component of executive control and a cornerstone of self-control. Via the hyperdirect pathway, the subthalamic nucleus (STN) receives inputs from frontal areas involved in inhibition and executive control. Evidence is reviewed from our own work and the literature suggesting that in Parkinson's disease (PD), deep brain stimulation (DBS) of the STN has an impact on executive control during attention-demanding tasks or in situations of conflict when habitual or prepotent responses have to be inhibited. These results support a role for the STN in an inter-related set of processes: switching from automatic to controlled processing, inhibitory and executive control, adjusting response thresholds and influencing speed-accuracy trade-offs. Such STN DBS-induced deficits in inhibitory and executive control may contribute to some of the psychiatric problems experienced by a proportion of operated cases after STN DBS surgery in PD. However, as no direct evidence for such a link is currently available, there is a need to provide direct evidence for such a link between STN DBS-induced deficits in inhibitory and executive control and post-surgical psychiatric complications experienced by operated patients.
PMCID: PMC3872293  PMID: 24399941
subthalamic nucleus; Parkinson's disease; deep brain stimulation; inhibition; executive control; prepotent responses
21.  Acute and Chronic Mood and Apathy Outcomes from a Randomized Study of Unilateral STN and GPi DBS 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(12):e114140.
To study mood and behavioral effects of unilateral and staged bilateral subthalamic nucleus (STN) and globus pallidus internus (GPi) deep brain stimulation (DBS) for Parkinson's disease (PD).
There are numerous reports of mood changes following DBS, however, most have focused on bilateral simultaneous STN implants with rapid and aggressive post-operative medication reduction.
A standardized evaluation was applied to a subset of patients undergoing STN and GPi DBS and who were also enrolled in the NIH COMPARE study. The Unified Parkinson Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS III), the Hamilton depression (HAM-D) and anxiety rating scales (HAM-A), the Yale-Brown obsessive-compulsive rating scale (YBOCS), the Apathy Scale (AS), and the Young mania rating scale (YMRS) were used. The scales were repeated at acute and chronic intervals. A post-operative strategy of non-aggressive medication reduction was employed.
Thirty patients were randomized and underwent unilateral DBS (16 STN, 14 GPi). There were no baseline differences. The GPi group had a higher mean dopaminergic dosage at 1-year, however the between group difference in changes from baseline to 1-year was not significant. There were no differences between groups in mood and motor outcomes. When combining STN and GPi groups, the HAM-A scores worsened at 2-months, 4-months, 6-months and 1-year when compared with baseline; the HAM-D and YMRS scores worsened at 4-months, 6-months and 1-year; and the UPDRS Motor scores improved at 4-months and 1-year. Psychiatric diagnoses (DSM-IV) did not change. No between group differences were observed in the cohort of bilateral cases.
There were few changes in mood and behavior with STN or GPi DBS. The approach of staging STN or GPi DBS without aggressive medication reduction could be a viable option for managing PD surgical candidates. A study of bilateral DBS and of medication reduction will be required to better understand risks and benefits of a bilateral approach.
PMCID: PMC4254912  PMID: 25469706
22.  Modulation of subthalamic T-type Ca2+ channels remedies locomotor deficits in a rat model of Parkinson disease  
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2011;121(8):3289-3305.
An increase in neuronal burst activities in the subthalamic nucleus (STN) is a well-documented electrophysiological feature of Parkinson disease (PD). However, the causal relationship between subthalamic bursts and PD symptoms and the ionic mechanisms underlying the bursts remain to be established. Here, we have shown that T-type Ca2+ channels are necessary for subthalamic burst firing and that pharmacological blockade of T-type Ca2+ channels reduces motor deficits in a rat model of PD. Ni2+, mibefradil, NNC 55-0396, and efonidipine, which inhibited T-type Ca2+ currents in acutely dissociated STN neurons, but not Cd2+ and nifedipine, which preferentially inhibited L-type or the other non–T-type Ca2+ currents, effectively diminished burst activity in STN slices. Topical administration of inhibitors of T-type Ca2+ channels decreased in vivo STN burst activity and dramatically reduced the locomotor deficits in a rat model of PD. Cd2+ and nifedipine showed no such electrophysiological and behavioral effects. While low-frequency deep brain stimulation (DBS) has been considered ineffective in PD, we found that lengthening the duration of the low-frequency depolarizing pulse effectively improved behavioral measures of locomotion in the rat model of PD, presumably by decreasing the availability of T-type Ca2+ channels. We therefore conclude that modulation of subthalamic T-type Ca2+ currents and consequent burst discharges may provide new strategies for the treatment of PD.
PMCID: PMC3223922  PMID: 21737877
23.  High-Frequency Stimulation of the Subthalamic Nucleus Restores Neural and Behavioral Functions During Reaction Time Task in a Rat Model of Parkinson’s Disease 
Journal of neuroscience research  2010;88(7):1510-1521.
Deep brain stimulation (DBS) has been used in the clinic to treat Parkinson’s disease (PD) and other neuropsychiatric disorders. Our previous work has shown that DBS in the subthalamic nucleus (STN) can improve major motor deficits, and induce a variety of neural responses in rats with unilateral dopamine (DA) lesions. In the present study, we examined the effect of STN DBS on reaction time (RT) performance and parallel changes in neural activity in the cortico-basal ganglia regions of partially bilateral DA- lesioned rats. We recorded neural activity with a multiple-channel single-unit electrode system in the primary motor cortex (MI), the STN, and the substantia nigra pars reticulata (SNr) during RT test. RT performance was severely impaired following bilateral injection of 6-OHDA into the dorsolateral part of the striatum. In parallel with such behavioral impairments, the number of responsive neurons to different behavioral events was remarkably decreased after DA lesion. Bilateral STN DBS improved RT performance in 6-OHDA lesioned rats, and restored operational behavior-related neural responses in cortico-basal ganglia regions. These behavioral and electrophysiological effects of DBS lasted nearly an hour after DBS termination. These results demonstrate that a partial DA lesion-induced impairment of RT performance is associated with changes in neural activity in the cortico-basal ganglia circuit. Furthermore, STN DBS can reverse changes in behavior and neural activity caused by partial DA depletion. The observed long-lasting beneficial effect of STN DBS suggests the involvement of the mechanism of neural plasticity in modulating corticobasal ganglia circuits.
PMCID: PMC4387000  PMID: 20025062
deep brain stimulation; electrophysiology; striatum; motor cortex; single-unit recording
24.  Frontal Cortex-Like Functions of the Subthalamic Nucleus 
The subthalamic nucleus (STN) has been considered a motor structure for a long time. Over the last 20 years, anatomical and behavioral data have highlighted the position of the STN within a prefrontal-associative and a limbic loops, suggesting that the STN should play a critical role in frontal functions such as attention, inhibitory control (including impulsive action, compulsivity, impulsive choice), and motivation. Here we will review the work highlighting these functions of the STN.
PMCID: PMC3190186  PMID: 22013416
basal ganglia; subthalamic nucleus; deep brain stimulation; attention; motivation; impulsivity; compulsion; behavioral inhibition
25.  Altered Brain Activity during Reward Anticipation in Pathological Gambling and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e45938.
Pathological gambling (PG) and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) are conceptualized as a behavioral addiction, with a dependency on repetitive gambling behavior and rewarding effects following compulsive behavior, respectively. However, no neuroimaging studies to date have examined reward circuitry during the anticipation phase of reward in PG compared with in OCD while considering repetitive gambling and compulsion as addictive behaviors.
Methods/Principal Findings
To elucidate the neural activities specific to the anticipation phase of reward, we performed event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in young adults with PG and compared them with those in patients with OCD and healthy controls. Fifteen male patients with PG, 13 patients with OCD, and 15 healthy controls, group-matched for age, gender, and IQ, participated in a monetary incentive delay task during fMRI scanning. Neural activation in the ventromedial caudate nucleus during anticipation of both gain and loss decreased in patients with PG compared with that in patients with OCD and healthy controls. Additionally, reduced activation in the anterior insula during anticipation of loss was observed in patients with PG compared with that in patients with OCD which was intermediate between that in OCD and healthy controls (healthy controls < PG < OCD), and a significant positive correlation between activity in the anterior insula and South Oaks Gambling Screen score was found in patients with PG.
Decreased neural activity in the ventromedial caudate nucleus during anticipation may be a specific neurobiological feature for the pathophysiology of PG, distinguishing it from OCD and healthy controls. Correlation of anterior insular activity during loss anticipation with PG symptoms suggests that patients with PG fit the features of OCD associated with harm avoidance as PG symptoms deteriorate. Our findings have identified functional disparities and similarities between patients with PG and OCD related to the neural responses associated with reward anticipation.
PMCID: PMC3447818  PMID: 23029329

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