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Keywords:

  • basal ganglia;
  • circling behaviour;
  • cognitive functions;
  • deep brain stimulation;
  • dopamine;
  • substantia nigra

Abstract

Chronic subthalamic nucleus high frequency stimulation (STN HFS) improves motor function in Parkinson's disease. However, its efficacy on cognitive function and the mechanisms involved are less known. The aim of this study was to assess the effects of STN HFS in hemiparkinsonian awake rats performing different specific motor tests and a cognitive operant task. Unilateral STN HFS applied in unilaterally DA-depleted rats decreased the apomorphine-induced circling behaviour and reduced catalepsy induced by the neuroleptic haloperidol. DA-depleted rats exhibited severe deficits in the operant task, among which the inability to perform the task was not alleviated by STN HFS. However, in a few animals showing less impairment, STN HFS significantly reduced the contralateral neglect induced by the lesion. These results are the first to demonstrate a beneficial effect of STN HFS applied in awake rats on basic motor functions. However, STN HFS appears to be less effective on impaired cognitive functions.