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PLoS One. 2011 Jan 18;6(1):e16293. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0016293.

Dispersed activity during passive movement in the globus pallidus of the 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP)-treated primate.

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Gonda Brain Research Center, Bar Ilan University, Ramat Gan, Israel.


Parkinson's disease is a neurodegenerative disorder manifesting in debilitating motor symptoms. This disorder is characterized by abnormal activity throughout the cortico-basal ganglia loop at both the single neuron and network levels. Previous neurophysiological studies have suggested that the encoding of movement in the parkinsonian state involves correlated activity and synchronized firing patterns. In this study, we used multi-electrode recordings to directly explore the activity of neurons from the globus pallidus of parkinsonian primates during passive limb movements and to determine the extent to which they interact and synchronize. The vast majority (80/103) of the recorded pallidal neurons responded to periodic flexion-extension movements of the elbow. The response pattern was sinusoidal-like and the timing of the peak response of the neurons was uniformly distributed around the movement cycle. The interaction between the neuronal activities was analyzed for 123 simultaneously recorded pairs of neurons. Movement-based signal correlation values were diverse and their mean was not significantly different from zero, demonstrating that the neurons were not activated synchronously in response to movement. Additionally, the difference in the peak responses phase of pairs of neurons was uniformly distributed, showing their independent firing relative to the movement cycle. Our results indicate that despite the widely distributed activity in the globus pallidus of the parkinsonian primate, movement encoding is dispersed and independent rather than correlated and synchronized, thus contradicting current views that posit synchronous activation during Parkinson's disease.

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