Deep brain stimulation of the subthalamic nucleus reestablishes neuronal information transmission in the 6-OHDA rat model of parkinsonism.
Pathophysiological activity of basal ganglia neurons accompanies the motor symptoms of Parkinson's disease. High-frequency (>90 Hz) deep brain stimulation (DBS) reduces parkinsonian symptoms, but the mechanisms remain unclear. We hypothesize that parkinsonism-associated electrophysiological changes constitute an increase in neuronal firing pattern disorder and a concomitant decrease in information transmission through the ventral basal ganglia, and that effective DBS alleviates symptoms by decreasing neuronal disorder while simultaneously increasing information transfer through the same regions. We tested these hypotheses in the freely behaving, 6-hydroxydopamine-lesioned rat model of hemiparkinsonism. Following the onset of parkinsonism, mean neuronal firing rates were unchanged, despite a significant increase in firing pattern disorder (i.e., neuronal entropy), in both the globus pallidus and substantia nigra pars reticulata. This increase in neuronal entropy was reversed by symptom-alleviating DBS. Whereas increases in signal entropy are most commonly indicative of similar increases in information transmission, directed information through both regions was substantially reduced (>70%) following the onset of parkinsonism. Again, this decrease in information transmission was partially reversed by DBS. Together, these results suggest that the parkinsonian basal ganglia are rife with entropic activity and incapable of functional information transmission. Furthermore, they indicate that symptom-alleviating DBS works by lowering the entropic noise floor, enabling more information-rich signal propagation. In this view, the symptoms of parkinsonism may be more a default mode, normally overridden by healthy basal ganglia information. When that information is abolished by parkinsonian pathophysiology, hypokinetic symptoms emerge.
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