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Periodic features of neural time series data, such as local field potentials (LFP), are often quantified using power spectra. While the aperiodic exponent of spectra is typically disregarded, it is nevertheless modulated in a physiologically-relevant manner and was recently hypothesised to reflect excitation/inhibition (E/I) balance in neuronal populations. Here, we used a cross-species in vivo electrophysiological approach to test the E/I hypothesis in the context of experimental and idiopathic Parkinsonism. We demonstrate in dopamine-depleted rats that aperiodic exponents and power at 30-100 Hz in subthalamic nucleus (STN) LFPs reflect defined changes in basal ganglia network activity; higher aperiodic exponents tally with lower levels of STN neuron firing and a balance tipped towards inhibition. Using STN-LFPs recorded from awake Parkinson's patients, we show that higher exponents accompany dopaminergic medication and deep brain stimulation (DBS) of STN, consistent with untreated Parkinson's manifesting as reduced inhibition and hyperactivity of STN. These results suggest that the aperiodic exponent of STN-LFPs in Parkinsonism reflects E/I balance, and might be a candidate biomarker for adaptive DBS.

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human, neuroscience, rat