Alterations in Functional Cortical Hierarchy in Hemiparkinsonian Rats

J Neurosci. 2017 Aug 9;37(32):7669-7681. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3257-16.2017. Epub 2017 Jul 7.


Parkinson's disease and experimentally induced hemiparkinsonism are characterized by increased beta synchronization between cortical and subcortical areas. This change in beta connectivity might reflect either a symmetric increase in interareal influences or asymmetric changes in directed influences among brain areas. We assessed patterns of functional and directed connectivity within and between striatum and six cortical sites in each hemisphere of the hemiparkinsonian rat model. LFPs were recorded in resting and walking states, before and after unilateral 6-hydroxydopamine lesion. The hemiparkinsonian state was characterized by increased oscillatory activity in the 20-40 Hz range in resting and walking states, and increased interhemispheric coupling (phase lag index) that was more widespread at rest than during walking. Spectral Granger-causality analysis revealed that the change in symmetric functional connectivity comprised profound reorganization of hierarchical organization and directed influence patterns. First, in the lesioned hemisphere, the more anterior, nonprimary motor areas located at the top of the cortical hierarchy (i.e., receiving many directed influences) tended to increase their directed influence onto the posterior primary motor and somatosensory areas. This enhanced influence of "higher" areas may be related to the loss of motor control due to the 6-OHDA lesion. Second, the drive from the nonlesioned toward the lesioned hemisphere (in particular to striatum) increased, most prominently during walking. The nature of these adaptations (disturbed signaling or compensation) is discussed. The present study demonstrates that hemiparkinsonism is associated with a profound reorganization of the hierarchical organization of directed influence patterns among brain areas, perhaps reflecting compensatory processes.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Parkinson's disease classically first becomes manifest in one hemibody before affecting both sides, suggesting that degeneration is asymmetrical. Our results suggest that asymmetrical degeneration of the dopaminergic system induces an increased drive from the nonlesioned toward the lesioned hemisphere and a profound reorganization of functional cortical hierarchical organization, leading to a stronger directed influence of hierarchically higher placed cortical areas over primary motor and somatosensory cortices. These changes may represent a compensatory mechanism for loss of motor control as a consequence of dopamine depletion.

Keywords: 6-OHDA lesion; Granger causality; LFPs; Parkinson's disease; functional connectivity; striatum.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Corpus Striatum / drug effects
  • Corpus Striatum / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Motor Cortex / drug effects
  • Motor Cortex / physiopathology*
  • Nerve Net / drug effects
  • Nerve Net / physiopathology*
  • Oxidopamine / toxicity
  • Parkinsonian Disorders / chemically induced
  • Parkinsonian Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Somatosensory Cortex / drug effects
  • Somatosensory Cortex / physiopathology*


  • Oxidopamine