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Kendall H. Lee, Su-Youne Chang, David W. Roberts, and Uhnoh Kim

Object. High-frequency stimulation (HFS) delivered through implanted electrodes in the subthalamic nucleus (STN) has become an established treatment for Parkinson disease (PD). The precise mechanism of action of deep brain stimulation (DBS) in the STN is unknown, however. In the present study, the authors tested the hypothesis that HFS within the STN changes neuronal action potential firing rates during the stimulation period by modifying neurotransmitter release.

Methods. Intracellular electrophysiological recordings were obtained using sharp electrodes in rat STN neurons in an in vitro slice preparation. A concentric bipolar stimulating electrode was placed in the STN slice, and electrical stimulation (pulse width 50–100 µsec, duration 100–2000 µsec, amplitude 10–500 µA, and frequency 10–200 Hz) was delivered while simultaneously obtaining intracellular recordings from an STN neuron.

High-frequency stimulation of the STN either generated excitatory postsynaptic potentials (EPSPs) and increased the action potential frequency or it generated inhibitory postsynaptic potentials and decreased the action potential frequency of neurons within the STN. These effects were blocked after antagonists to glutamate and γ-aminobutyric acid were applied to the tissue slice, indicating that HFS resulted in the release of neurotransmitters. Intracellular recordings from substantia nigra pars compacta (SNc) dopaminergic neurons during HFS of the STN revealed increased generation of EPSPs and increased frequency of action potentials in SNc neurons.

Conclusions. During HFS of STN neurons the mechanism of DBS may involve the release of neurotransmitters rather than the primary electrogenic inhibition of neurons.

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Kai J. Miller, Nader Pouratian, Jin Woo Chang, and Kendall H. Lee

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Kendall H. Lee, Frederick L. Hitti, Mark H. Shalinsky, Uhnoh Kim, James C. Leiter, and David W. Roberts


The mechanism of action whereby high-frequency stimulation (HFS) in the thalamus ameliorates tremor and epilepsy is unknown. The authors studied the effects of HFS on thalamocortical relay neurons in a ferret in vitro slice preparation to test the hypothesis that HFS abolishes synchronized oscillations by neurotransmitter release.


Intracellular and extracellular electrophysiological recordings were made in thalamic slices. The neurons in the thalamic slice spontaneously generated spindle oscillations, and treatment with picrotoxin, a γ-aminobutyric acid A receptor antagonist, resulted in 3- to 4-Hz absence seizurelike activity. High-frequency stimulation (stimulation parameters: 10–1000-µA amplitude; 100-µsec pulse width; 100-Hz frequency; 1–60 seconds) was applied using a concentric bipolar stimulating electrode placed adjacent to the recording electrodes.

High-frequency stimulation within the thalamus generated inhibitory and excitatory postsynaptic potentials, membrane depolarization, an increase in action potential firing during the stimulation period, and abolished the spindle oscillations in the thalamocortical relay neurons. High-frequency stimulation applied to 20-µM picrotoxin-treated slices eliminated the 3- to 4-Hz absence seizurelike activity.


High-frequency stimulation eliminates spontaneous spindle oscillations and picrotoxin-induced absence seizurelike activity in thalamic slices by synaptic neurotransmitter release; thus, HFS may abolish synchronous oscillatory activities such as those that generate tremor and seizures. Paradoxically, HFS, which is excitatory, and surgical lesions of the ventrointermedius thalamus, which are presumably inhibitory, both suppress tremors. This paradox is resolved by recognizing that HFS-mediated neurotransmitter release and thalamic surgery both disrupt the circuit generating tremor or seizure, albeit by different mechanisms.

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Jamie J. Van Gompel, Fredric B. Meyer, W. Richard Marsh, Kendall H. Lee, and Gregory A. Worrell


Intracranial monitoring for temporal lobe seizure localization to differentiate neocortical from mesial temporal onset seizures requires both neocortical subdural grids and hippocampal depth electrode implantation. There are 2 basic techniques for hippocampal depth electrode implantation. This first technique uses a stereotactically guided 8-contact depth electrode directed along the long axis of the hippocampus to the amygdala via an occipital bur hole. The second technique involves direct placement of 2 or 3 4-contact depth electrodes perpendicular to the temporal lobe through the middle temporal gyrus and overlying subdural grid. The purpose of this study was to determine whether one technique was superior to the other by examining monitoring success and complications.


Between 1997 and 2005, 41 patients underwent invasive seizure monitoring with both temporal subdural grids and depth electrodes placed in 2 ways. Patients in Group A underwent the first technique, and patients in Group B underwent the second technique.


Group A consisted of 26 patients and Group B 15 patients. There were no statistically significant differences between Groups A and B regarding demographics, monitoring duration, seizure localization, or outcome (Engel classification). There was a statistically significant difference at the point in time at which these techniques were used: Group A represented more patients earlier in the series than Group B (p < 0.05). The complication rate attributable to the grids and depth electrodes was 0% in each group. It was more likely that the depth electrodes were placed through the grid if there was a prior resection and the patient was undergoing a new evaluation (p < 0.05). Furthermore, Group A procedures took significantly longer than Group B procedures.


In this patient series, there was no difference in efficacy of monitoring, complications, or outcome between hippocampal depth electrodes placed laterally through temporal grids or using an occipital bur hole stereotactic approach. Placement of the depth electrodes perpendicularly through the grids and middle temporal gyrus is technically more practical because multiple head positions and redraping are unnecessary, resulting in shorter operative times with comparable results.

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Jeffrey P. Mullin, Jamie J. Van Gompel, Kendall H. Lee, Fredric B. Meyer, and Matt Stead

Heterotopic gray matter has been implicated in epilepsy; however, not much is known regarding heterotopia beyond epilepsy. Here, the authors describe 2 pediatric patients with deep heterotopias contiguous with basal ganglia structures. These heterotopias appear to have manifested as movement disorders. One patient presented with a left-sided myoclonus and choreiform movements associated with a right caudate heterotopia; she experienced vast improvement after resection of periventricular heterotopia. The other patient presented with progressive dystonia and a ballistic movement disorder. Initial bilateral globus pallidus internus stimulation resulted in successful treatment of the dystonia; however, her movement disorder worsened. After an extensive workup, including STATISCOM (statistical ictal SPECT coregistered to MR imaging), the patient underwent cortical stimulation with improvement in her movement disorder. To the best of our knowledge, these cases are the first reported instances of heterotopic gray matter associated with movement disorders. Both patients experienced significant improvements following resection of their heterotopias.

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Tejas Sankar and Andres M. Lozano

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William S. Gibson, Aaron E. Rusheen, Yoonbae Oh, Myung-Ho In, Krzysztof R. Gorny, Joel P. Felmlee, Bryan T. Klassen, Sung Jun Jung, Hoon-Ki Min, Kendall H. Lee, and Hang Joon Jo


Deep brain stimulation (DBS) of the subthalamic nucleus (STN) is an established neurosurgical treatment for the motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease (PD). While often highly effective, DBS does not always yield optimal therapeutic outcomes, and stimulation-induced adverse effects, including paresthesia, muscle contractions, and nausea/lightheadedness, commonly occur and can limit the efficacy of stimulation. Currently, objective metrics do not exist for monitoring neural changes associated with stimulation-induced therapeutic and adverse effects.


In the present study, the authors combined intraoperative functional MRI (fMRI) with STN DBS in 20 patients with PD to test the hypothesis that stimulation-induced blood oxygen level–dependent signals contained predictive information concerning the therapeutic and adverse effects of stimulation.


As expected, DBS resulted in blood oxygen level–dependent activation in myriad motor regions, including the primary motor cortex, caudate, putamen, thalamus, midbrain, and cerebellum. Across the patients, DBS-induced improvements in contralateral Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale tremor subscores correlated with activation of thalamic, brainstem, and cerebellar regions. In addition, improvements in rigidity and bradykinesia subscores correlated with activation of the primary motor cortex. Finally, activation of specific sensorimotor-related subregions correlated with the presence of DBS-induced adverse effects, including paresthesia and nausea (cerebellar cortex, sensorimotor cortex) and unwanted muscle contractions (caudate and putamen).


These results suggest that DBS-induced activation patterns revealed by fMRI contain predictive information with respect to the therapeutic and adverse effects of DBS. The use of fMRI in combination with DBS therefore may hold translational potential to guide and improve clinical stimulator optimization in patients.

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J. Blair Price, Aaron E. Rusheen, Abhijeet S. Barath, Juan M. Rojas Cabrera, Hojin Shin, Su-Youne Chang, Christopher J. Kimble, Kevin E. Bennet, Charles D. Blaha, Kendall H. Lee, and Yoonbae Oh

The development of closed-loop deep brain stimulation (DBS) systems represents a significant opportunity for innovation in the clinical application of neurostimulation therapies. Despite the highly dynamic nature of neurological diseases, open-loop DBS applications are incapable of modifying parameters in real time to react to fluctuations in disease states. Thus, current practice for the designation of stimulation parameters, such as duration, amplitude, and pulse frequency, is an algorithmic process. Ideal stimulation parameters are highly individualized and must reflect both the specific disease presentation and the unique pathophysiology presented by the individual. Stimulation parameters currently require a lengthy trial-and-error process to achieve the maximal therapeutic effect and can only be modified during clinical visits. The major impediment to the development of automated, adaptive closed-loop systems involves the selection of highly specific disease-related biomarkers to provide feedback for the stimulation platform. This review explores the disease relevance of neurochemical and electrophysiological biomarkers for the development of closed-loop neurostimulation technologies. Electrophysiological biomarkers, such as local field potentials, have been used to monitor disease states. Real-time measurement of neurochemical substances may be similarly useful for disease characterization. Thus, the introduction of measurable neurochemical analytes has significantly expanded biomarker options for feedback-sensitive neuromodulation systems. The potential use of biomarker monitoring to advance neurostimulation approaches for treatment of Parkinson’s disease, essential tremor, epilepsy, Tourette syndrome, obsessive-compulsive disorder, chronic pain, and depression is examined. Further, challenges and advances in the development of closed-loop neurostimulation technology are reviewed, as well as opportunities for next-generation closed-loop platforms.

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Vance T. Lehman, Kendall H. Lee, Bryan T. Klassen, Daniel J. Blezek, Abhinav Goyal, Bhavya R. Shah, Krzysztof R. Gorny, John Huston III, and Timothy J. Kaufmann

The thalamic ventral intermediate nucleus (VIM) can be targeted for treatment of tremor by several procedures, including deep brain stimulation (DBS) and, more recently, MR-guided focused ultrasound (MRgFUS). To date, such targeting has relied predominantly on coordinate-based or atlas-based techniques rather than directly targeting the VIM based on imaging features. While general regional differences of features within the thalamus and some related white matter tracts can be distinguished with conventional imaging techniques, internal nuclei such as the VIM are not discretely visualized. Advanced imaging methods such as quantitative susceptibility mapping (QSM) and fast gray matter acquisition T1 inversion recovery (FGATIR) MRI and high-field MRI pulse sequences that improve the ability to image the VIM region are emerging but have not yet been shown to have reliability and accuracy to serve as the primary method of VIM targeting. Currently, the most promising imaging approach to directly identify the VIM region for clinical purposes is MR diffusion tractography.

In this review and update, the capabilities and limitations of conventional and emerging advanced methods for evaluation of internal thalamic anatomy are briefly reviewed. The basic principles of tractography most relevant to VIM targeting are provided for familiarization. Next, the key literature to date addressing applications of DTI and tractography for DBS and MRgFUS is summarized, emphasizing use of direct targeting. This literature includes 1-tract (dentatorubrothalamic tract [DRT]), 2-tract (pyramidal and somatosensory), and 3-tract (DRT, pyramidal, and somatosensory) approaches to VIM region localization through tractography.

The authors introduce a 3-tract technique used at their institution, illustrating the oblique curved course of the DRT within the inferior thalamus as well as the orientation and relationship of the white matter tracts in the axial plane. The utility of this 3-tract tractography approach to facilitate VIM localization is illustrated with case examples of variable VIM location, targeting superior to the anterior commissure–posterior commissure plane, and treatment in the setting of pathologic derangement of thalamic anatomy. Finally, concepts demonstrated with these case examples and from the prior literature are synthesized to highlight several potential advantages of tractography for VIM region targeting.