Frequency-dependent spike-pattern changes in motor cortex during thalamic deep brain stimulation

Edward M. Bello, Filippo Agnesi, Yizi Xiao, Joan Dao, Matthew D. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The cerebellar-receiving area of the motor thalamus is the primary anatomical target for treating essential tremor with deep brain stimulation (DBS). Although neuroimaging studies have shown that higher stimulation frequencies in this target correlate with increased cortical metabolic activity, less is known about the cellular-level functional changes that occur in the primary motor cortex (M1) with thalamic stimulation and how these changes depend on the frequency of DBS. In this study, we used a preclinical animal model of DBS to collect single-unit spike recordings in M1 before, during, and after DBS targeting the cerebellar-receiving area of the motor thalamus (VPLo, nucleus ventralis posterior lateralis pars oralis). The effects of VPLo-DBS on M1 spike rates, interspike interval entropy, and peristimulus phase-locking were compared across stimulus pulse train frequencies ranging from 10 to 130 Hz. Although VPLo-DBS modulated the spike rates of 20–50% of individual M1 cells in a frequency-dependent manner, the population-level average spike rate only weakly depended on stimulation frequency. In contrast, the population-level entropy measure showed a pronounced decrease with high-frequency stimulation, caused by a subpopulation of cells that exhibited strong phase-locking and general spike-pattern regularization. Contrarily, low-frequency stimulation induced an entropy increase (spike-pattern disordering) in a relatively large portion of the recorded population, which diminished with higher stimulation frequencies. These results also suggest that changes in phase-locking and spike-pattern entropy are not necessarily equivalent pattern phenomena, but rather that they should both be weighed when quantifying stimulation-induced spike-pattern changes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1518-1529
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of neurophysiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 24 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health (R01-NS081118). We thank the Noam Harel and Remi Patriat and the Center for Magnetic Resonance Research (CMRR) for providing the imaging resources (P41-EB015894, P30-076408, and U54-MH091657).

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2020 the American Physiological Society


  • DBS
  • Frequency
  • Mechanisms
  • Motor cortex
  • Thalamus

Center for Magnetic Resonance Research (CMRR) tags

  • ANDI
  • NHPR


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