Bilateral stimulation of the subthalamic nucleus has differential effects on reactive and proactive inhibition and conflict-induced slowing in Parkinson's disease

Exp Brain Res. 2013 May;226(3):451-62. doi: 10.1007/s00221-013-3457-9. Epub 2013 Mar 23.


It has been proposed that the subthalamic nucleus (STN) mediates response inhibition and conflict resolution through the fronto-basal ganglia pathways. Our aim was to compare the effects of deep brain stimulation (DBS) of the STN on reactive and proactive inhibition and conflict resolution in Parkinson's disease using a single task. We used the conditional Stop signal reaction time task that provides the Stop signal reaction time (SSRT) as a measure of reactive inhibition, the response delay effect (RDE) as a measure of proactive inhibition and conflict-induced slowing (CIS) as a measure of conflict resolution. DBS of the STN significantly prolonged SSRT relative to stimulation off. However, while the RDE measure of proactive inhibition was not significantly altered by DBS of the STN, relative to healthy controls, RDE was significantly lower with DBS off but not DBS on. DBS of the STN did not alter the mean CIS but produced a significant differential effect on the slowest and fastest RTs on conflict trials, further prolonging the slowest RTs on the conflict trials relative to DBS off and to controls. These results are the first demonstration, using a single task in the same patient sample, that DBS of the STN produces differential effects on reactive and proactive inhibition and on conflict resolution, suggesting that these effects are likely to be mediated through the impact of STN stimulation on different fronto-basal ganglia pathways: hyperdirect, direct and indirect.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Attention / physiology
  • Conflict, Psychological*
  • Deep Brain Stimulation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Parkinson Disease / physiopathology*
  • Proactive Inhibition*
  • Reaction Time / physiology*
  • Reactive Inhibition*
  • Subthalamic Nucleus / physiopathology*