Parkinsonism and vigilance: Alteration in neural oscillatory activity and phase-amplitude coupling in the basal ganglia and motor cortex

David Escobar Sanabria, Luke A. Johnson, Shane D. Nebeck, Jianyu Zhang, Matthew D. Johnson, Kenneth B. Baker, Gregory F. Molnar, Jerrold L. Vitek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Oscillatory neural activity in different frequency bands and phase-amplitude coupling (PAC) are hypothesized to be biomarkers of Parkinson’s disease (PD) that could explain dysfunction in the motor circuit and be used for closed-loop deep brain stimulation (DBS). How these putative biomarkers change from the normal to the parkinsonian state across nodes in the motor circuit and within the same subject, however, remains unknown. In this study, we characterized how parkinsonism and vigilance altered oscillatory activity and PAC within the primary motor cortex (M1), subthalamic nucleus (STN), and globus pallidus (GP) in two nonhuman primates. Static and dynamic analyses of local field potential (LFP) recordings indicate that 1) after induction of parkinsonism using the neurotoxin MPTP, low-frequency power (8 –30 Hz) increased in the STN and GP in both subjects, but increased in M1 in only one subject; 2) high-frequency power (~330 Hz) was present in the STN in both normal subjects but absent in the parkinsonian condition; 3) elevated PAC measurements emerged in the parkinsonian condition in both animals, but in different sites in each animal (M1 in one subject and GPe in the other); and 4) the state of vigilance significantly impacted how oscillatory activity and PAC were expressed in the motor circuit. These results support the hypothesis that changes in low- and high-frequency oscillatory activity and PAC are features of parkinsonian pathophysiology and provide evidence that closed-loop DBS systems based on these biomarkers may require subjectspecific configurations as well as adaptation to changes in vigilance. New and Noteworthy Chronically implanted electrodes were used to record neural activity across multiple nodes in the basal ganglia-thalamocortical circuit simultaneously in a nonhuman primate model of Parkinson's disease, enabling within-subject comparisons of electrophysiological biomarkers between normal and parkinsonian conditions and different vigilance states. This study improves our understanding of the role of oscillatory activity and phase-amplitude coupling in the pathophysiology of Parkinson's disease and supports the development of more effective DBS therapies based on pathophysiological biomarkers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2654-2669
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of neurophysiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 3 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The research reported in this publication was funded by the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (R01-NS077657, R01-NS037019, P50-NS098573), and University of Minnesota’s MnDRIVE (Minnesota’s Discovery, Research and Innovation Economy) Initiative Postdoctoral Fellowships to D. Escobar and L. A. Johnson.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 the American Physiological Society.


  • Globus pallidus
  • Local field potential
  • Oscillations
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Phase-amplitude coupling
  • Primary motor cortex
  • Subthalamic nucleus


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