Correlation between cortical beta power and gait speed is suppressed in a parkinsonian model, but restored by therapeutic deep brain stimulation

Publication date: September 2018
Source:Neurobiology of Disease, Volume 117
Author(s): Christian A. Polar, Rahul Gupta, Mark J. Lehmkuhle, Alan D. Dorval
The motor cortex and subthalamic nucleus (STN) of patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD) exhibit abnormally high levels of electrophysiological oscillations in the ~12–35 Hz beta-frequency range. Recent studies have shown that beta is partly carried forward to regulate future motor states in the healthy condition, suggesting that steady state beta power is lower when a sequence of movements occurs in a short period of time, such as during fast gait. However, whether this relationship between beta power and motor states persists upon parkinsonian onset or in response to effective therapy is unclear. Using a 6-hydroxy dopamine (6-OHDA) rat model of PD and a custom-built behavioral and neurophysiological recording system, we aimed to elucidate a better understanding of the mechanisms underlying cortical beta power and PD symptoms. In addition to elevated levels of beta oscillations, we show that parkinsonian onset was accompanied by a decoupling of movement intensity — quantified as gait speed — from cortical beta power. Although subthalamic deep brain stimulation (DBS) reduced general levels of beta oscillations in the cortex of all PD animals, the brain’s capacity to regulate steady state levels of beta power as a function of movement intensity was only restored in animals with therapeutic DBS. We propose that, in addition to lowering general levels of cortical beta power, restoring the brain’s ability to maintain this inverse relationship is critical for effective symptom suppression.