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  • Author or Editor: William D. Hutchison x
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Myriam Lafreniere-Roula, William D. Hutchison, Andres M. Lozano, Mojgan Hodaie and Jonathan O. Dostrovsky


The aim of the current study was to examine and compare the aftereffects of local high-frequency microstimulation through the recording electrode on the firing of neurons in the subthalamic nucleus (STN) and the substantia nigra pars reticulata (SNr) in patients undergoing surgery for deep brain stimulation. Deep brain stimulation has been playing an increasing role in the treatment of Parkinson disease, with the subthalamic nucleus (STN) being the preferred implantation target. Changes in cellular activity indicative of the borders of the STN are typically used during surgery to determine the extent of the STN and locate the optimal target, but in some cases borders may be difficult to identify. In this study the authors compared the effects of microstimulation in the SNr and STN. In previous studies they have shown that microstimulation in the internal globus pallidus, which is functionally similar to the SNr, inhibits firing, whereas similar microstimulation in the STN has minimal effect. The presence of inhibition in the SNr but not in the STN could be used as an additional criterion to help identify the location of the border between the STN and SNr.


Dual microelectrode recordings were performed during stereotactic surgery in 4 patients. Well-isolated high-amplitude units were stimulated extracellularly through the recording microelectrode with 0.5-second trains of high frequency (200 Hz) and low current (≤ 5 μA).


In the majority (92%) of SNr neurons, this type of stimulation led to a period of inhibition lasting several hundreds of milliseconds following the end of the train. In contrast, only 1 neuron of 70 judged to be in the STN by other criteria was inhibited by this type of microstimulation, and this neuron was located at the ventral border of the STN.


These findings indicate that prolonged inhibition of firing following low-amplitude high-frequency microstimulation via the recording electrode is a consistent feature of almost all SNr neurons and rarely if ever occurs in STN neurons. This feature therefore provides a useful additional finding that can be used to help identify the border between the STN and SNr.

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Cristina V. Torres, Elena Moro, Jonathan O. Dostrovsky, William D. Hutchison, Yu-Yan W. Poon and Mojgan Hodaie

Bilateral deep brain stimulation of the globus pallidus pars interna (GPi) is the favored neuromodulation procedure in cases of cervical dystonia. The authors report on a case of unilateral GPi implantation that resulted in sustained benefit with marked improvement in pain and dystonia.

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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.