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1.  A spatiotemporal analysis of gait freezing and the impact of pedunculopontine nucleus stimulation 
Brain  2012;135(5):1446-1454.
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.
PMCID: PMC3338924  PMID: 22396391
Parkinson’s disease; gait freezing; deep brain stimulation; pedunculopontine nucleus
2.  Alpha oscillations in the pedunculopontine nucleus correlate with gait performance in parkinsonism 
Brain  2012;135(1):148-160.
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.
PMCID: PMC3267984  PMID: 22232591
Parkinson's disease; gait freezing; pedunculopontine nucleus; deep brain stimulation; neuronal oscillations
3.  A block to pre-prepared movement in gait freezing, relieved by pedunculopontine nucleus stimulation 
Brain  2011;134(7):2085-2095.
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.
PMCID: PMC3122373  PMID: 21705424
deep brain stimulation; gait freezing; Parkinson’s disease; pedunculopontine nucleus; StartReact

Results 1-3 (3)