Parkinson's disease (PD) is characterized by excessive beta band oscillations (BBO) in neuronal spiking activity across basal ganglia (BG) nuclei. High frequency stimulation of the subthalamic nucleus, an effective treatment for PD, suppresses these oscillations. There is still a heated debate on the origin and propagation of BBO and their association to clinical symptoms. The key prerequisite in addressing these issues is to obtain an accurate estimation of the subpopulation of oscillatory neurons and the magnitude of their oscillations. Studies have shown that neurons in different BG nuclei vary dramatically in the magnitude of their oscillations. However, the stochastic nature of neuronal activity subsamples the oscillatory neuronal rate functions, thus causing standard spectral analysis methods to be dramatically biased by biological and experimental factors such as variations in the neuronal firing rate across BG nuclei. In order to overcome these biases, and directly analyze the expression of BBO within BG nuclei, we used a novel objective method, the modulation index. This method reveals that unlike previous spectral results, individual neurons in the different nuclei display similar magnitudes of oscillations, whereas only the size of the oscillatory subpopulation varies between nuclei. During stimulation, the magnitude of the BBO does not change but the fraction of oscillatory neurons decreases in the globus pallidus internus, leading to a significant change in BG output. This non-biased oscillation quantification thus enables the reconstruction of oscillations at the single neuron and nuclei population levels, and calls for a reassessment of the role of BBO during PD.
Keywords: Beta band; Deep brain stimulation (DBS); Globus pallidus; Non-human primate; Oscillations; Parkinson's disease; Spike trains; Subthalamic nucleus.
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