A basic EEG feature upon voluntary movements in healthy human subjects is a β (13–30 Hz) band desynchronization followed by a postmovement event-related synchronization (ERS) over contralateral sensorimotor cortex. The functional implications of these changes remain unclear. We hypothesized that, because β ERS follows movement, it may reflect the degree of error in that movement, and the salience of that error to the task at hand. As such, the signal might underpin trial-to-trial modifications of the internal model that informs future movements. To test this hypothesis, EEG was recorded in healthy subjects while they moved a joystick-controlled cursor to visual targets on a computer screen, with different rotational perturbations applied between the joystick and cursor. We observed consistently lower β ERS in trials with large error, even when other possible motor confounds, such as reaction time, movement duration, and path length, were controlled, regardless of whether the perturbation was random or constant. There was a negative trial-to-trial correlation between the size of the absolute initial angular error and the amplitude of the β ERS, and this negative correlation was enhanced when other contextual information about the behavioral salience of the angular error, namely, the bias and variance of errors in previous trials, was additionally considered. These same features also had an impact on the behavioral performance. The findings suggest that the β ERS reflects neural processes that evaluate motor error and do so in the context of the prior history of errors.
error history; motor error; postmovement β event-related synchronization; event-related desynchronization
The subthalamic nucleus (STN) is thought to play a central role in modulating responses during conflict. Computational models have suggested that the location of the STN in the basal ganglia, as well as its numerous connections to conflict-related cortical structures, allows it to be ideally situated to act as a global inhibitor during conflict. Additionally, recent behavioral experiments have shown that deep brain stimulation to the STN results in impulsivity during high-conflict situations. However, the precise mechanisms that mediate the “hold-your-horses” function of the STN remain unclear. We recorded from deep brain stimulation electrodes implanted bilaterally in the STN of 13 human subjects with Parkinson's disease while they performed a flanker task. The incongruent trials with the shortest reaction times showed no behavioral or electrophysiological differences from congruent trials, suggesting that the distracter stimuli were successfully ignored. In these trials, cue-locked STN theta band activity demonstrated phase alignment across trials and was followed by a periresponse increase in theta power. In contrast, incongruent trials with longer reaction times demonstrated a relative reduction in theta phase alignment followed by higher theta power. Theta phase alignment negatively correlated with subject reaction time, and theta power positively correlated with trial reaction time. Thus, when conflicting stimuli are not properly ignored, disruption of STN theta phase alignment may help operationalize the hold-your-horses role of the nucleus, whereas later increases in the amplitude of theta oscillations may help overcome this function.
Gain-of-function mutations in the ATP-sensitive potassium channel can cause permanent neonatal diabetes mellitus (PNDM) or neonatal diabetes accompanied by a constellation of neurological symptoms (iDEND syndrome). Studies of a mouse model of iDEND syndrome revealed that cerebellar Purkinje cell electrical activity was impaired and that the mice exhibited poor motor coordination. In this study, we probed the hand-eye coordination of PNDM and iDEND patients using visual tracking tasks to see if poor motor coordination is also a feature of the human disease.
Control participants (n = 14), patients with iDEND syndrome (n = 6 or 7), and patients with PNDM (n = 7) completed three computer-based tasks in which a moving target was tracked with a joystick-controlled cursor. Patients with PNDM and iDEND were being treated with sulphonylurea drugs at the time of testing.
No differences were seen between PNDM patients and controls. Patients with iDEND syndrome were significantly less accurate than controls in two of the three tasks. The greatest differences were seen when iDEND patients tracked blanked targets, i.e. when predictive tracking was required. In this task, iDEND patients incurred more discrepancy errors (p = 0.009) and more velocity errors (p = 0.009) than controls.
These results identify impaired hand-eye coordination as a new clinical feature of iDEND. The aetiology of this feature is likely to involve cerebellar dysfunction. The data further suggest that sulphonylurea doses that control the diabetes of these patients may be insufficient to fully correct their neurological symptoms.
The subthalamic nucleus (STN) is a key node in the network that supports response inhibition. It is suggested that the STN rapidly inhibits basal ganglia activity, to pause motor output during conflict until an appropriate motor plan is ready. Here, we recorded neural activity during a Stroop task from deep brain stimulation electrodes implanted in the human STN. We intended to determine whether cognitive psychological phenomena such as the Stroop effect can be explained via mechanisms of response inhibition involving the STN, or if higher cognitive centres are alone responsible. We show stimulus driven desychronisation in the beta-band (15 – 35 Hz) that lasts throughout the verbal response, in keeping with the idea that beta-band synchrony decreases to allow motor output to occur. During incongruent trials - where response times were elongated due to the Stroop effect - a resynchronisation was seen in the beta-band prior to response. Crucially, in the incongruent trials during which the participant was unable to withhold the pre-potent response this resynchronisation occurred after response onset. We suggest that this beta-band resynchronisation pauses the motor system until conflict can be resolved.
Beta oscillatory activity; deep brain stimulation; basal ganglia; speech; cognitive control
Gait freezing is an episodic arrest of locomotion due to an inability to take normal steps. Pedunculopontine nucleus stimulation is an emerging therapy proposed to improve gait freezing, even where refractory to medication. However, the efficacy and precise effects of pedunculopontine nucleus stimulation on Parkinsonian gait disturbance are not established. The clinical application of this new therapy is controversial and it is unknown if bilateral stimulation is more effective than unilateral. Here, in a double-blinded study using objective spatiotemporal gait analysis, we assessed the impact of unilateral and bilateral pedunculopontine nucleus stimulation on triggered episodes of gait freezing and on background deficits of unconstrained gait in Parkinson’s disease. Under experimental conditions, while OFF medication, Parkinsonian patients with severe gait freezing implanted with pedunculopontine nucleus stimulators below the pontomesencephalic junction were assessed during three conditions; off stimulation, unilateral stimulation and bilateral stimulation. Results were compared to Parkinsonian patients without gait freezing matched for disease severity and healthy controls. Pedunculopontine nucleus stimulation improved objective measures of gait freezing, with bilateral stimulation more effective than unilateral. During unconstrained walking, Parkinsonian patients who experience gait freezing had reduced step length and increased step length variability compared to patients without gait freezing; however, these deficits were unchanged by pedunculopontine nucleus stimulation. Chronic pedunculopontine nucleus stimulation improved Freezing of Gait Questionnaire scores, reflecting a reduction of the freezing encountered in patients’ usual environments and medication states. This study provides objective, double-blinded evidence that in a specific subgroup of Parkinsonian patients, stimulation of a caudal pedunculopontine nucleus region selectively improves gait freezing but not background deficits in step length. Bilateral stimulation was more effective than unilateral.
Parkinson’s disease; gait freezing; deep brain stimulation; pedunculopontine nucleus
Voluntary movement is accompanied by changes in the degree to which neurons in the brain synchronize their activity within discrete frequency ranges. Two patterns of movement-related oscillatory activity stand out in human cortical motor areas. Activity in the beta frequency (15–30 Hz) band is prominent during tonic contractions but is attenuated prior to and during voluntary movement . Without such attenuation, movement may be slowed, leading to the suggestion that beta activity promotes postural and tonic contraction, possibly at a cost to the generation of new movements [2, 3]. In contrast, activity in the gamma (60–90 Hz) band increases during movement . The direction of change suggests that gamma activity might facilitate motor processing. In correspondence with this, increased frontal gamma activity is related with reduced reaction times . Yet the possibility remains that these functional correlations reflect an epiphenomenal rather than causal relationship. Here we provide strong evidence that oscillatory activities at the cortical level are mechanistically involved in determining motor behavior and can even improve performance. By driving cortical oscillations using noninvasive electrical stimulation, we show opposing effects at beta and gamma frequencies and interactions with motor task that reveal the potential quantitative importance of oscillations in motor behavior.
► Cortical driving at 20 and 70 Hz slows and speeds voluntary force generation ► Performance can be enhanced even during contractions made as fast as possible ► Scale of effects of cortical driving depend on the nature of the cued motor task
The pedunculopontine nucleus, a component of the reticular formation, is topographically organized in animal models and implicated in locomotor control. In Parkinson's disease, pedunculopontine nucleus stimulation is an emerging treatment for gait freezing. Local field potentials recorded from pedunculopontine nucleus electrodes in such patients have demonstrated oscillations in the alpha and beta frequency bands, reactive to self-paced movement. Whether these oscillations are topographically organized or relevant to locomotion is unknown. Here, we recorded local field potentials from the pedunculopontine nucleus in parkinsonian patients during rest and unconstrained walking. Relative gait speed was assessed with trunk accelerometry. Peaks of alpha power were present at rest and during gait, when they correlated with gait speed. Gait freezing was associated with attenuation of alpha activity. Beta peaks were less consistently observed across rest and gait, and did not correlate with gait speed. Alpha power was maximal in the caudal pedunculopontine nucleus region and beta power was maximal rostrally. These results indicate a topographic distribution of neuronal activity in the pedunculopontine nucleus region and concur with animal data suggesting that the caudal subregion has particular relevance to gait. Alpha synchronization, proposed to suppress ‘task irrelevant’ distraction, has previously been demonstrated to correlate with performance of cognitive tasks. Here, we demonstrate a correlation between alpha oscillations and improved gait performance. The results raise the possibility that stimulation of caudal and rostral pedunculopontine nucleus regions may differ in their clinical effects.
Parkinson's disease; gait freezing; pedunculopontine nucleus; deep brain stimulation; neuronal oscillations
Diffusion imaging of post mortem brains has great potential both as a reference for brain specimens that undergo sectioning, and as a link between in vivo diffusion studies and “gold standard” histology/dissection. While there is a relatively mature literature on post mortem diffusion imaging of animals, human brains have proven more challenging due to their incompatibility with high-performance scanners. This study presents a method for post mortem diffusion imaging of whole, human brains using a clinical 3-Tesla scanner with a 3D segmented EPI spin-echo sequence. Results in eleven brains at 0.94 × 0.94 × 0.94 mm resolution are presented, and in a single brain at 0.73 × 0.73 × 0.73 mm resolution. Region-of-interest analysis of diffusion tensor parameters indicate that these properties are altered compared to in vivo (reduced diffusivity and anisotropy), with significant dependence on post mortem interval (time from death to fixation). Despite these alterations, diffusion tractography of several major tracts is successfully demonstrated at both resolutions. We also report novel findings of cortical anisotropy and partial volume effects.
► Acquisition and processing protocols for diffusion MRI of post-mortem human brains. ► Effect of post-mortem and scan intervals on diffusion indices. ► Tractography in post-mortem human brains. ► Radial diffusion anisotropy in cortical gray matter.
Diffusion tensor imaging; Tractography; Post mortem; Human; Brain
Gait freezing and postural instability are disabling features of Parkinsonian disorders, treatable with pedunculopontine nucleus stimulation. Both features are considered deficits of proximal and axial musculature, innervated predominantly by reticulospinal pathways and tend to manifest when gait and posture require adjustment. Adjustments to gait and posture are amenable to pre-preparation and rapid triggered release. Experimentally, such accelerated release can be elicited by loud auditory stimuli—a phenomenon known as ‘StartReact’. We observed StartReact in healthy and Parkinsonian controls. However, StartReact was absent in Parkinsonian patients with severe gait freezing and postural instability. Pedunculopontine nucleus stimulation restored StartReact proximally and proximal reaction times to loud stimuli correlated with gait and postural disturbance. These findings suggest a relative block to triggered, pre-prepared movement in gait freezing and postural instability, relieved by pedunculopontine nucleus stimulation.
deep brain stimulation; gait freezing; Parkinson’s disease; pedunculopontine nucleus; StartReact
Saccadic eye movements are driven by motor commands that are continuously modified so that errors created by eye muscle fatigue, injury, or—in humans—wearing spectacles can be corrected. It is possible to rapidly adapt saccades in the laboratory by introducing a discrepancy between the intended and actual saccadic target. Neurophysiological and lesion studies in the non-human primate as well as neuroimaging and patient studies in humans have demonstrated that the oculomotor vermis (lobules VI and VII of the posterior cerebellum) is critical for saccadic adaptation. We studied the effect of transiently disrupting the function of posterior cerebellum with repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) on the ability of healthy human subjects to adapt saccadic eye movements. rTMS significantly impaired the adaptation of the amplitude of saccades, without modulating saccadic amplitude or variability in baseline conditions. Moreover, increasing the intensity of rTMS produced a larger impairment in the ability to adapt saccadic size. These results provide direct evidence for the role of the posterior cerebellum in man and further evidence that TMS can modulate cerebellar function.
Cerebellum; Saccades; Adaptation; Physiological; Eye movements/physiology; Transcranial magnetic stimulation; Repetitive