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Clin Neurophysiol. 2004 Nov;115(11):2542-57.

Neuronal activity in the basal ganglia and thalamus in patients with dystonia.

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Beijing Institute of Functional Neurosurgery, Xuanwu Hospital, Capital University of Medical Sciences, Beijing 100053, China.



To explore the role of abnormal neuronal activity in the basal ganglia and thalamus in the generation of dystonia.


Microelectrode recording was performed in the globus pallidus internus (GPi), ventral thalamic nuclear group ventral oral posterior/ventral intermediate, Vop/Vim) and subthalamic nucleus (STN) in patients with primary dystonia (n=11) or secondary dystonia (n=9) during surgery. Electromyogram (EMG) was simultaneously recorded in selected muscle groups. Single unit analysis and cross-correlations were carried out.


Three hundred and sixty-seven neurons were obtained from 29 trajectories (GPi: 13; Vop/Vim: 12; STN: 4), 87% exhibited altered neuronal activity including grouped discharges in GPi (n=79) and STN (n=37), long-lasting neuronal activity (n=70) and rapid neuronal discharge (n=86) in Vop/Vim. There were neurons in Vop, GPi and STN firing at the same frequency as EMG during dystonia (mean: 0.39 Hz, range 0.12-0.84 Hz). Significant correlations between neuronal activity and EMG at the frequency of dystonia were obtained (GPi: r2=0.7 (n=31), Vop/Vim: r2=0.64 (n=18) and STN: r2=0.86 (n=17)).


Consistent with previous findings of abnormalities observed in Vop/VIM and GPi in relation to dystonia, the present data further show that the altered activity in GPi, specifically in dorsal subregions of GPi, Vop/Vim and STN is likely to be directly involved in the production of dystonic movement. Dystonia-related neuronal activity observed in motor thalamus and basal ganglia nuclei of GPi and STN indicates a critical role of their interactions affecting both indirect and direct pathways in the development of either generalized or focal dystonia.


These data support a central role of the basal ganglia in producing dystonic movements.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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