Distinctive neuronal firing patterns in subterritories of the subthalamic nucleus

Nicolò G. Pozzi, Gabriele Arnulfo, Andrea Canessa, Frank Steigerwald, Robert Nickl, György A. Homola, Marco M. Fato, Cordula Matthies, Claudio Pacchetti, Jens Volkmann, Ioannis U. Isaias

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective Deep brain stimulation of the subthalamic nucleus (STN–DBS) is an established treatment for Parkinson's disease (PD). Anatomical connectivity analyses and task-related physiological studies have divided the STN into different functional domains: sensorimotor, limbic, and associative – located in its dorsolateral (dSTN), anteroventral (vSTN) and medial territories, respectively. Targeting sensorimotor STN is essential for stimulation efficacy and is supported by intraoperative micro-electrode recordings. A different neuronal signature in microelectrode recordings across STN subterritories was explored in this study. Methods Stable recordings from 30 PD patients were assigned to dSTN or vSTN by means of an anatomical method (based on fused computed tomography/magnetic resonance images) and through a priori tri-segmented partition of the recording itself. We computed the inter-spike interval (ISI) and ISI-characteristics, mean firing rate (MFR), discharge patterns and mean burst rate (MBR) of each detected single unit activity. Results We showed a different MBR between dSTN and vSTN (1.51 ± 0.18 vs. 1.76 ± 0.22 events/minute, Wilcoxon rank sum test, p < 0.05) and a trend in the difference between their MFR (12.78 vs. 15.05 Hz, Wilcoxon rank sum test, p = 0.053) only with the anatomically based method. Conclusion Burst firing differs across STN subterritories. Significance Different functions of subthalamic domains might be reflected by distinctive burst signalling of its subterritories.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3387-3393
Number of pages7
JournalClinical Neurophysiology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2016


  • Deep brain stimulation (STN)
  • Micro-electrode recordings (MER)
  • Parkinson's disease (PD)
  • Subthalamic nucleus (STN)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sensory Systems
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Physiology (medical)


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