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AbstractPrevalence and temporal dynamics of transient oscillations in the beta frequency band (15-35 Hz), referred to as beta bursts, are correlated with motor performance and tactile perception. Disturbance of these activities is a candidate mechanism for motor impairment in Parkinson’s disease (PD), where the excessively long bursts correlate with symptom severity and are reduced by pharmacological and surgical treatments. To date, characterization of beta bursts in PD has been limited to the local field potentials in the subthalamic nucleus (STN) and cortical EEG. Here, we describe the changes that take place in spiking activity across the cortico-basal ganglia circuit, providing a unique insight into the network dynamics of these transient oscillations. Firstly, we demonstrate that rhythmic subthalamic spiking activity emerges at a fixed phase relationship with respect to cortical beta bursts in PD patients. Using multichannel recordings of ensembles of neurons in the 6-OHDA rat model of PD, we then dissect the beta burst dynamics across the sensorimotor cortex and several basal ganglia structures: striatum (Str), globus pallidus externus (GPe) and STN. Each subcortical structure exhibits enhanced rhythmic activity in the beta band locked to the onset of cortical beta bursts and longer cortical bursts lead to stronger subcortical rhythmicity. Crucially, enhanced subcortical rhythmic activity emerges at a fixed phase relationship with respect to the motor cortex, comparable to the relationship observed in PD patients. Striatal beta bursts terminate prior to the recruitment of those in the STN and GPe, suggesting that while they could play an important role in establishing synchrony in the beta band, they do not extensively contribute to its maintenance in other basal ganglia structures. Critically, changes in cortico-subcortical phase coupling precede the onset of a cortical beta burst, supporting the hypothesis that phase alignment across the cortico-basal ganglia network could recruit these structures into synchronous network oscillations. We provide a powerful approach that not only examines pathophysiology of PD across the motor circuit, but also offer insights that could aid in the design of novel neuromodulation strategies to manipulate the state of the motor system before pathological activities emerge.

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