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Alterations of basal ganglia physiology in parkinsonism may consist of two elements, an increase in the firing rate of neurones and a change in the pattern of synchronisation of discharges between neurones. Recent findings suggest the presence of two principal modes of synchronised activity within the human subthalamo-pallidal-thalamo-cortical circuit, at <30 Hz and >60 Hz. These oscillations are dynamically and systematically modulated by task, thereby suggesting a functional role in movement. More importantly, the two frequency modes are inversely affected by movement, consistent with opposing actions, and differentially expressed according to the prevailing level of dopaminergic activity. It is argued that the balance between these modes determines the effects of basal ganglia-thalamocortical projections on the motor areas of the cortex. The lower frequency oscillations facilitate slow idling rhythms in the motor areas of the cortex, whereas synchronisation at high frequency restores dynamic task-related cortical ensemble activity in the gamma band.

Original publication




Journal article


Mov Disord

Publication Date





357 - 363


Basal Ganglia, Basal Ganglia Diseases, Cortical Synchronization, Dopamine, Humans, Nerve Net, Oscillometry, Parkinson Disease, Synaptic Transmission