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Enhancements in motor performance have been demonstrated in response to intense stimuli both in healthy subjects and in the form of 'paradoxical kinesis' in patients with Parkinson's disease. Here we identify a mid-latency evoked potential in local field potential recordings from the region of the subthalamic nucleus, which scales in amplitude with both the intensity of the stimulus delivered and corresponding enhancements in biomechanical measures of maximal handgrips, independent of the dopaminergic state of our subjects with Parkinson's disease. Recordings of a similar evoked potential in the related pedunculopontine nucleus - a key component of the reticular activating system - provide support for this neural signature in the subthalmic nucleus being a novel correlate of ascending arousal, propagated from the reticular activating system to exert an 'energizing' influence on motor circuitry. Future manipulation of this system linking arousal and motor performance may provide a novel approach for the non-dopaminergic enhancement of motor performance in patients with hypokinetic disorders such as Parkinson's disease.

Original publication




Journal article


Exp Neurol

Publication Date





19 - 26


Arousal, Evoked activity, Local field potentials, Pedunculopontine nucleus, Subthalamic nucleus, Acoustic Stimulation, Adult, Aged, Antiparkinson Agents, Cues, Deep Brain Stimulation, Electromyography, Evoked Potentials, Female, Hand Strength, Humans, Levodopa, Male, Middle Aged, Motor Activity, Parkinson Disease, Photic Stimulation, Psychoacoustics, Reaction Time, Subthalamic Nucleus