The effect of STN DBS on modulating brain oscillations: consequences for motor and cognitive behavior

Exp Brain Res. 2020 Aug;238(7-8):1659-1676. doi: 10.1007/s00221-020-05834-7. Epub 2020 Jun 3.


In this review, we highlight Professor John Rothwell's contribution towards understanding basal ganglia function and dysfunction, as well as the effects of subthalamic nucleus deep brain stimulation (STN DBS). The first section summarizes the rate and oscillatory models of basal ganglia dysfunction with a focus on the oscillation model. The second section summarizes the motor, gait, and cognitive mechanisms of action of STN DBS. In the final section, we summarize the effects of STN DBS on motor and cognitive tasks. The studies reviewed in this section support the conclusion that high-frequency STN DBS improves the motor symptoms of Parkinson's disease. With respect to cognition, STN DBS can be detrimental to performance especially when the task is cognitively demanding. Consolidating findings from many studies, we find that while motor network oscillatory activity is primarily correlated to the beta-band, cognitive network oscillatory activity is not confined to one band but is subserved by activity in multiple frequency bands. Because of these findings, we propose a modified motor and associative/cognitive oscillatory model that can explain the consistent positive motor benefits and the negative and null cognitive effects of STN DBS. This is clinically relevant because STN DBS should enhance oscillatory activity that is related to both motor and cognitive networks to improve both motor and cognitive performance.

Keywords: Beta-band oscillatory activity; Cognitive network; Models of basal ganglia dysfunction; Motor network; Parkinson’s disease; Subthalamic nucleus deep brain stimulation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Basal Ganglia
  • Cognition
  • Deep Brain Stimulation*
  • Humans
  • Parkinson Disease* / therapy
  • Subthalamic Nucleus*