Alpha frequency modulation in the human basal ganglia is dependent on motor task

Arun Singh, Johannes Levin, Jan H. Mehrkens, Kai Bötzel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Depth recordings from the basal ganglia of patients suffering from Parkinson's disease (PD) or dystonia have revealed local field potential (LFP) activity in specific frequency bands. Depth recordings also allow us to study LFP power spectra during different types of limb movements, thus helping to elucidate the role of the basal ganglia in specific motor tasks. Accordingly, we recorded bilateral LFP activity from the subthalamic nucleus (STN) of patients with PD (n=9) and from the globus pallidus internum (GPi) of patients with dystonia (n=8). Recordings were taken during the performance of repetitive passive, active and ballistic fast extensions and flexions of the elbow joint and during rest. The first result was that the frequency spectra varied task-specifically in a similar fashion in GPi and STN. The amplitude of the alpha frequency on the contralateral side was significantly higher in ballistic fast movements compared with rest, passive and active performance in both STN and GPi. In conclusion, ballistic fast movements cause synchronized basal ganglia activity in the alpha range. Because this was seen in both patient groups (PD and dystonia) we consider this activity as task-specific rather than disease-related.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)960-967
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Neuroscience
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 1 2011


  • Ballistic fast movements
  • Globus pallidus internum
  • Local field potentials
  • Subthalamic nucleus


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