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It is unclear how subthalamic nucleus activity is modulated by the cerebral cortex. Here we investigate the effect of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) of the cortex on oscillatory subthalamic local field potential activity in the 8-35 Hz (alpha/beta) band, as exaggerated synchronization in this band is implicated in the pathophysiology of parkinsonism. We studied nine patients with Parkinson's disease (PD) to test whether cortical stimulation can modulate synchronized oscillations in the human subthalamic nucleus. With patients at rest, single-pulse TMS was delivered every 5 s over each primary motor area and supplementary motor area at intensities of 85-115% resting motor threshold. Subthalamic local field potentials were recorded from deep brain stimulation electrodes implanted into this nucleus for the treatment of PD. Motor cortical stimulation suppressed beta activity in the subthalamic nucleus from approximately 0.2 to 0.6 s after TMS (repeated measures anova; main effect of time, P < 0.01; main effect of side, P = 0.03), regardless of intensity. TMS over the supplementary motor area also reduced subthalamic beta activity at 95% (P = 0.05) and 115% resting motor threshold (P = 0.01). The oscillatory activity decreased to 80 +/- 26% of baseline (averaged across sites and stimulation intensities). Suppression with subthreshold stimuli confirmed that these changes were centrally driven and not due to peripheral afference. The results may have implications for mechanisms underlying the reported therapeutic benefits of cortical stimulation.

Original publication




Journal article


Eur J Neurosci

Publication Date





1686 - 1695


Action Potentials, Aged, Beta Rhythm, Biological Clocks, Deep Brain Stimulation, Electrodes, Implanted, Evoked Potentials, Female, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Motor Cortex, Neural Inhibition, Neural Pathways, Neurons, Parkinson Disease, Subthalamic Nucleus, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation