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Keywords:

  • Tremor;
  • Thalamic stimulation;
  • Parkinsonism

Abstract

The motor effects of stimuli delivered through four-channel, quadripolar macroelectrodes chronically implanted in the ventrolateral thalamus were studied in 20 awake cooperating human subjects. Single stimuli could inhibit voluntary contraction of the contralateral first dorsal interosseous muscle (FDI) for up to 200 ms. The inhibition was often followed by a rebound facilitation or by oscillatory activity. This inhibition appeared to arise from the ventrolateral thalamus and could not be obtained in other patients by stimulation of the periventricular grey matter (PVG), the globus pallidus internus (GPI), or the subthalamic nucleus (STN). The neural elements activated by the stimulus had a short chronaxie and a short refractory period, implying that they were large-diameter axons. Similar effects were obtained from each of the four electrodes in the row, suggesting that this fiber system lay parallel rather than perpendicular to the implanted macroelectrode. The inhibition resulting from a single stimulus was diminished by a prior stimulus or train of stimuli. A continuous train of stimuli produced inhibition for only the first 200 ms. We propose that the thalamic stimulus activates a neural network which includes thalamic relay cells and neurons of the thalamic reticular nucleus and that the inhibition of thalamic relay cells habituates with repeated stimuli. It has been suggested that parkinsonian rest tremor results from synchronization of the oscillatory activity of this network. If this is the case, continuous thalamic stimulation might disrupt this oscillation by diminishing the inhibitory phase.