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Cortex. 2014 Nov;60:69-81. doi: 10.1016/j.cortex.2014.02.019. Epub 2014 Mar 6.

Oscillatory subthalamic nucleus activity is modulated by dopamine during emotional processing in Parkinson's disease.

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Department of Neurology, Charité - University Medicine Berlin, Berlin, Germany.
Dahlem Institute for Neuroimaging of Emotion, Free University Berlin, Berlin, Germany.
Neurosurgical Department of the Vienna General Hospital, Vienna, Austria.
Department of Neurosurgery, Charité - University Medicine Berlin, Berlin, Germany.
Department of Neurology, Charité - University Medicine Berlin, Berlin, Germany; Berlin School of Mind and Brain, Charité - University Medicine Berlin, Berlin, Germany; NeuroCure, Charité - University Medicine Berlin, Berlin, Germany. Electronic address:


Dopaminergic denervation in Parkinson's disease (PD) leads to motor deficits but also depression, lack of motivation and apathy. These symptoms can be reversed by dopaminergic treatment, which may even lead to an increased hedonic tone in some patients with PD. Here, we tested the effects of dopamine on emotional processing as indexed by changes in local field potential (LFP) activity of the subthalamic nucleus (STN) in 28 PD patients undergoing deep brain stimulation. LFP activity from the STN was recorded after the administration of levodopa (ON group) or after overnight withdrawal of medication (OFF group) during presentation of an emotional picture-viewing task. Neutral and emotionally arousing pleasant and unpleasant stimuli were chosen from the International Affective Picture System. We found a double dissociation of the alpha band response depending on dopamine state and stimulus valence: dopamine enhanced the processing of pleasant stimuli, while activation during unpleasant stimuli was reduced, as indexed by the degree of desynchronization in the alpha frequency band. This pattern was reversed in the OFF state and more pronounced in the subgroup of non-depressed PD patients. Further, we found an early gamma band increase with unpleasant stimuli that occurred when ON but not OFF medication and was correlated with stimulus arousal. The late STN alpha band decrease is thought to represent active processing of sensory information. Our findings support the idea that dopamine enhances approach-related processes during late stimulus evaluation in PD. The early gamma band response may represent local encoding of increased attention, which varies as a function of stimulus arousal.


Alpha/gamma oscillations; Dopamine; Emotion; Local field potentials; Parkinson's disease

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