SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

Keywords:

  • computational modelling;
  • finite element method;
  • parameter settings;
  • Parkinson’s disease

Abstract

Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a successful surgical therapy used to treat the disabling symptoms of movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease. It involves the chronic stimulation of disorder-specific nuclei. However, the mechanisms that lead to clinical improvements remain unclear. Consequently, this slows the optimization of present-day DBS therapy and hinders its future development and application. We used a computational model to calculate the distribution of electric potential induced by DBS and study the effect of stimulation on the spiking activity of a subthalamic nucleus (STN) projection neuron. We previously showed that such a model can reveal detailed spatial effects of stimulation in the vicinity of the electrode. However, this multi-compartmental STN neuron model can fire in either a burst or tonic mode and, in this study, we hypothesized that the firing mode of the cell will have a major impact on the DBS-induced effects. Our simulations showed that the bursting model exhibits behaviour observed in studies of high-frequency stimulation of STN neurons, such as the presence of a silent period at stimulation offset and frequency-dependent stimulation effects. We validated the model by simulating the clinical parameter settings used for a Parkinsonian patient and showed, in a patient-specific anatomical model, that the region of affected tissue is consistent with clinical observations of the optimal DBS site. Our results demonstrated a method of quantitatively assessing neuronal changes induced by DBS, to maximize therapeutic benefit and minimize unwanted side effects.