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J Neurosci. 2017 May 3;37(18):4830-4840. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2208-16.2017. Epub 2017 Apr 17.

Nonsinusoidal Beta Oscillations Reflect Cortical Pathophysiology in Parkinson's Disease.

Author information

Neurosciences Graduate Program,
Department of Cognitive Science.
Department of Neurological Surgery, University of California-San Francisco, San Francisco, California 94143.
Neurosciences Graduate Program.
Institute for Neural Computation, and.
Kavli Institute for Brain and Mind, University of California-San Diego, La Jolla, California 92093, and.


Oscillations in neural activity play a critical role in neural computation and communication. There is intriguing new evidence that the nonsinusoidal features of the oscillatory waveforms may inform underlying physiological and pathophysiological characteristics. Time-domain waveform analysis approaches stand in contrast to traditional Fourier-based methods, which alter or destroy subtle waveform features. Recently, it has been shown that the waveform features of oscillatory beta (13-30 Hz) events, a prominent motor cortical oscillation, may reflect near-synchronous excitatory synaptic inputs onto cortical pyramidal neurons. Here we analyze data from invasive human primary motor cortex (M1) recordings from patients with Parkinson's disease (PD) implanted with a deep brain stimulator (DBS) to test the hypothesis that the beta waveform becomes less sharp with DBS, suggesting that M1 input synchrony may be decreased. We find that, in PD, M1 beta oscillations have sharp, asymmetric, nonsinusoidal features, specifically asymmetries in the ratio between the sharpness of the beta peaks compared with the troughs. This waveform feature is nearly perfectly correlated with beta-high gamma phase-amplitude coupling (r = 0.94), a neural index previously shown to track PD-related motor deficit. Our results suggest that the pathophysiological beta generator is altered by DBS, smoothing out the beta waveform. This has implications not only for the interpretation of the physiological mechanism by which DBS reduces PD-related motor symptoms, but more broadly for our analytic toolkit in general. That is, the often-overlooked time-domain features of oscillatory waveforms may carry critical physiological information about neural processes and dynamics.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT To better understand the neural basis of cognition and disease, we need to understand how groups of neurons interact to communicate with one another. For example, there is evidence that parkinsonian bradykinesia and rigidity may arise from an oversynchronization of afferents to the motor cortex, and that these symptoms are treatable using deep brain stimulation. Here we show that the waveform shape of beta (13-30 Hz) oscillations, which may reflect input synchrony onto the cortex, is altered by deep brain stimulation. This suggests that mechanistic inferences regarding physiological and pathophysiological neural communication may be made from the temporal dynamics of oscillatory waveform shape.


Parkinson's disease; beta; motor cortex; oscillation; phase-amplitude coupling; waveform

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