Introduction: We hypothesise that Parkinsonian tremor arises when the caudal zona incerta (cZI) and subthalamic nucleus (STN) are deprived of dopamine and become increasingly responsive to motor cortical alpha and beta frequency oscillations. These oscillations are synchronised and amplified through the basal ganglia thalamocortical loop and entrained into the cerebello-thalamocortical loop via the cZI. Upon receiving potent GABAergic alpha and beta frequency oscillations in cZI afferents, ventrolateral(VL) thalamocortical neurons become hyperpolarised and rebound burst fire, generating 4-6Hz tremor oscillations. We test this hypothesis by stimulating the cZI at alpha and beta frequencies using deep brain stimulation (DBS) in non tremulous parkinsonian patients to see whether a 4-6Hz tremor can be induced.
Method: This study included 11 patients with non tremulous PD, who had DBS leads implanted in a range of targets including the cZI, STN, VL nucleus, globus pallidus internus (GPi), centromedian and parafascicular nucleus (CM/Pf), and the pedunculopontine nucleus (PPN). All patients underwent stimulation of active contacts within their respective targets at a standard pulse width, with frequencies ranging from 5-80Hz up to a maximum tolerated voltage. The frequency of the tremor induced in the hands was recorded by accelerometry.
Result: Resting tremor in the 4-6Hz range could be readily induced following stimulation of the cZI and the VL nucleus between 5 and 40Hz. Tremor was also seen following STN stimulation, however, only at high stimulation voltages (>5volts). No tremor could be induced following CM/Pf, PPN or GPi stimulation.
Conclusion: We discuss the implications of these findings and argue that resting tremor in PD is generated in the cortico-ZI-VL-thalamocortical loop rather than the cortico-basal ganglia--thalamocortical loop.
- caudal zona incerta
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