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  • Author or Editor: William D. Hutchison x
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Diellor Basha, Jonathan O. Dostrovsky, Suneil K. Kalia, Mojgan Hodaie, Andres M. Lozano and William D. Hutchison

The amputation of an extremity is commonly followed by phantom sensations that are perceived to originate from the missing limb. The mechanism underlying the generation of these sensations is still not clear although the development of abnormal oscillatory bursting in thalamic neurons may be involved. The theory of thalamocortical dysrhythmia implicates gamma oscillations in phantom pathophysiology although this rhythm has not been previously observed in the phantom limb thalamus. In this study, the authors report the novel observation of widespread 38-Hz gamma oscillatory activity in spike and local field potential recordings obtained from the ventral caudal somatosensory nucleus of the thalamus (Vc) of a phantom limb patient undergoing deep brain stimulation (DBS) surgery. Interestingly, microstimulation near tonically firing cells in the Vc resulted in high-frequency, gamma oscillatory discharges coincident with phantom sensations reported by the patient. Recordings from the somatosensory thalamus of comparator groups (essential tremor and pain) did not reveal the presence of gamma oscillatory activity.

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Nicolas Kon Kam King, Vibhor Krishna, Diellor Basha, Gavin Elias, Francesco Sammartino, Mojgan Hodaie, Andres M. Lozano and William D. Hutchison


The ventral intermediate nucleus (VIM) of the thalamus is not visible on structural MRI. Therefore, direct VIM targeting methods for stereotactic tremor surgery are desirable. The authors previously described a direct targeting method for visualizing the VIM and its structural connectivity using deterministic tractography. In this combined electrophysiology and imaging study, the authors investigated the electrophysiology within this tractography-defined VIM (T-VIM).


Thalamic neurons were classified based on their relative location to the T-VIM: dorsal, within, and ventral to the T-VIM. The authors identified the movement-responsive cells (kinesthetic and tremor cells), performed spike analysis (firing rate and burst index), and local field potential analysis (area under the curve for 13–30 Hz). Tremor efficacy in response to microstimulation along the electrode trajectory was also assessed in relation to the T-VIM.


Seventy-three cells from a total of 9 microelectrode tracks were included for this analysis. Movement-responsive cells (20 kinesthetic cells and 26 tremor cells) were identified throughout the electrode trajectories. The mean firing rate and burst index of cells (n = 27) within the T-VIM are 18.8 ± 9.8 Hz and 4.5 ± 5.4, respectively. Significant local field potential beta power was identified within the T-VIM (area under the curve for 13–30 Hz = 6.6 ± 7.7) with a trend toward higher beta power in the dorsal T-VIM. The most significant reduction in tremor was also observed in the dorsal T-VIM.


The electrophysiological findings within the VIM thalamus defined by tractography, or T-VIM, correspond with the known microelectrode recording characteristics of the VIM in patients with tremor.