Sensorimotor Processing in the Basal Ganglia Leads to Transient Beta Oscillations during Behavior

J Neurosci. 2017 Nov 15;37(46):11220-11232. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1289-17.2017. Epub 2017 Oct 16.


Brief epochs of beta oscillations have been implicated in sensorimotor control in the basal ganglia of task-performing healthy animals. However, which neural processes underlie their generation and how they are affected by sensorimotor processing remains unclear. To determine the mechanisms underlying transient beta oscillations in the LFP, we combined computational modeling of the subthalamo-pallidal network for the generation of beta oscillations with realistic stimulation patterns derived from single-unit data recorded from different basal ganglia subregions in rats performing a cued choice task. In the recordings, we found distinct firing patterns in the striatum, globus pallidus, and subthalamic nucleus related to sensory and motor events during the behavioral task. Using these firing patterns to generate realistic inputs to our network model led to transient beta oscillations with the same time course as the rat LFP data. In addition, our model can account for further nonintuitive aspects of beta modulation, including beta phase resets after sensory cues and correlations with reaction time. Overall, our model can explain how the combination of temporally regulated sensory responses of the subthalamic nucleus, ramping activity of the subthalamic nucleus, and movement-related activity of the globus pallidus leads to transient beta oscillations during behavior.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Transient beta oscillations emerge in the normal functioning cortico-basal ganglia loop during behavior. Here, we used a unique approach connecting a computational model closely with experimental data. In this way, we achieved a simulation environment for our model that mimics natural input patterns in awake, behaving animals. We demonstrate that a computational model for beta oscillations in Parkinson's disease (PD) can also account for complex patterns of transient beta oscillations in healthy animals. Therefore, we propose that transient beta oscillations in healthy animals share the same mechanism with pathological beta oscillations in PD. This important result connects functional and pathological roles of beta oscillations in the basal ganglia.

Keywords: basal ganglia; beta oscillations; subthalamo-pallidal network.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Basal Ganglia / physiology*
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Beta Rhythm / physiology*
  • Models, Biological*
  • Rats
  • Sensorimotor Cortex / physiology*