J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 79:700-705 doi:10.1136/jnnp.2007.118729
  • Research paper

Effects of subthalamic deep brain stimulation on noun/verb generation and selection from competing alternatives in Parkinson’s disease

  1. J E Castner1,
  2. H J Chenery1,
  3. P A Silburn2,3,4,
  4. T J Coyne2,3,
  5. F Sinclair2,3,
  6. E R Smith1,
  7. D A Copland1
  1. 1
    Centre for Research in Language Processing and Linguistics, Division of Speech Pathology, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
  2. 2
    St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital, Queensland, Australia
  3. 3
    The Wesley Hospital, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
  4. 4
    School of Medicine, The University of Queensland, Herston, Queensland, Australia
  1. Dr D Copland, Division of Speech Pathology, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, The University of Queensland, Brisbane QLD 4072, Australia; d.copland{at}
  • Received 18 February 2007
  • Revised 4 September 2007
  • Accepted 17 September 2007
  • Published Online First 2 October 2007


Background and aim: Impaired generation of verbs relative to nouns has been reported in Parkinson’s disease (PD) and has been associated with the frontal pathophysiology of PD. The aim of the present study was to measure noun/verb generation abilities in PD and to determine whether noun/verb generation is affected by stimulation of the subthalamic nucleus (STN).

Patients and methods: 8 participants who had been diagnosed with PD and had received surgery for deep brain stimulation (DBS) of the STN as well as 15 control participants completed a noun/verb generation task with four probe–response conditions—namely, noun–noun, verb–noun, noun–verb and verb–verb conditions. Patients with PD were assessed while receiving STN stimulation and without stimulation.

Results: During the off stimulation condition, patients with PD presented with a selective deficit in verb generation compared with control participants. However, when receiving STN stimulation, patients with PD produced significantly more errors than controls during the noun–noun and verb–verb conditions, supporting evidence from previous studies that STN stimulation modulates a frontotemporal network associated with word generation. Finally, errors during verb generation were significantly correlated with item selection constraint (ie, the degree to which a response competes with other response alternatives) in the on stimulation condition, but not the off stimulation condition.

Conclusion: Our results suggest that STN stimulation affects the ability to select from many competing lexical alternatives during verb generation.


  • Funding: This research was supported by a University of Queensland Research Development Grant. JC is a recipient of a Smart State PhD Scholarship awarded by the Queensland Government Department of State Development, Trade and Innovation, and DC is supported by an ARC Research Fellowship.

  • Competing interests: None.

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