Phase matters: A role for the subthalamic network during gait

PLoS One. 2018 Jun 6;13(6):e0198691. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0198691. eCollection 2018.


The role of the subthalamic nucleus in human locomotion is unclear although relevant, given the troublesome management of gait disturbances with subthalamic deep brain stimulation in patients with Parkinson's disease. We investigated the subthalamic activity and inter-hemispheric connectivity during walking in eight freely-moving subjects with Parkinson's disease and bilateral deep brain stimulation. In particular, we compared the subthalamic power spectral densities and coherence, amplitude cross-correlation and phase locking value between resting state, upright standing, and steady forward walking. We observed a phase locking value drop in the β-frequency band (≈13-35Hz) during walking with respect to resting and standing. This modulation was not accompanied by specific changes in subthalamic power spectral densities, which was not related to gait phases or to striatal dopamine loss measured with [123I]N-ω-fluoropropyl-2β-carbomethoxy-3β-(4-iodophenyl)nortropane and single-photon computed tomography. We speculate that the subthalamic inter-hemispheric desynchronization in the β-frequency band reflects the information processing of each body side separately, which may support linear walking. This study also suggests that in some cases (i.e. gait) the brain signal, which could allow feedback-controlled stimulation, might derive from network activity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Deep Brain Stimulation*
  • Feedback, Physiological
  • Female
  • Gait / physiology*
  • Gait Analysis / methods
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Parkinson Disease / diagnostic imaging
  • Parkinson Disease / physiopathology
  • Parkinson Disease / therapy*
  • Standing Position
  • Subthalamic Nucleus / cytology
  • Subthalamic Nucleus / diagnostic imaging
  • Subthalamic Nucleus / physiology*
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed, Single-Photon
  • Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulation

Grant support

The study was sponsored in part by the “Interdisziplinäres Zentrum für Klinische Forschung (IZKF)” of the University Hospital Wuerzburg and by the “Fondazione Grigioni per il Morbo di Parkinson”. NGP and CP were supported by a grant of the German Excellence Initiative to the Graduate School of Life Sciences, University of Wuerzburg.