High functional connectivity of tremor related subthalamic neurons in Parkinson's disease

Florian Amtage, Kathrin Henschel, Bjoern Schelter, Jan Vesper, Jens Timmer, Carl Hermann Luecking, Bernhard Hellwig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: Tremor is a core symptom of Parkinson's disease (PD). The subthalamic nucleus (STN) seems to be crucial for tremor pathophysiology considering that deep brain stimulation (DBS) of the STN leads to an effective reduction of Parkinsonian tremor. Here, we investigate the functional connectivity between STN neurons in patients with Parkinsonian tremor.

Methods: STN activity was analyzed in 7 patients with Parkinsonian rest tremor who underwent stereotactic surgery for DBS. Spike activity was registered in different depths of the STN using an array of five microelectrodes. Interneuronal coherence within the STN was analyzed.

Results: Significant interneuronal coherence at the tremor frequency was detected in 78 out of 145 neurons. In contrast, interneuronal coherence in the beta band occurred only in 26 out of 145 neurons. Functional connectivity at the tremor frequency can be characterized by a slowly decaying exponential curve which describes coherence between STN neurons as a function of interneuronal distances between 0 and 4 mm.

Conclusions: Spatially distributed synchronization at the tremor frequency seems to be a key feature of STN pathophysiology in patients with Parkinsonian tremor.

Significance: The findings suggest a subthalamic tremor network which is widely extended and strongly coupled. (C) 2009 International Federation of Clinical Neurophysiology. Published by Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1755-1761
Number of pages7
JournalClinical Neurophysiology
Issue number9
Early online date24 Jul 2009
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2009


  • Parkinson's disease
  • subthalamic nucleus
  • tremor
  • network
  • synchronization
  • human


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