Recent studies have implicated the subthalamic nucleus (STN) in decisions that involve inhibiting movements. Many of the decisions that we make in our daily lives, however, do not involve any motor actions. We studied non-motor decision making by recording intraoperative STN and prefrontal cortex (PFC) electrophysiology as participants perform a novel task that required them to decide whether to encode items into working memory. During all encoding trials, beta band (15-30 Hz) activity decreased in the STN and PFC, and this decrease was progressively enhanced as more items were stored into working memory. Crucially, the STN and lateral PFC beta decrease was significantly attenuated during the trials in which participants were instructed not to encode the presented stimulus. These changes were associated with increase lateral PFC-STN coherence and altered STN neuronal spiking. Our results shed light on why states of altered basal ganglia activity disrupt both motor function and cognition.
Keywords: beta oscillations; decision making; deep brain stimulation; human; latera prefrontal cortex; neuroscience; subthalamic nucleus; working memory.