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Inappropriately synchronized beta (beta) oscillations (15-30 Hz) in the subthalamic nucleus (STN) accompany movement difficulties in idiopathic Parkinson's disease (PD). The cellular and network substrates underlying these exaggerated beta oscillations are unknown but activity in the external globus pallidus (GP), which forms a candidate pacemaker network with STN, might be of particular importance. Using a clinically relevant rat model of PD, we demonstrate that oscillatory activity in GP neuronal networks becomes excessively and selectively synchronized at beta frequencies in a spatially widespread and brain state-dependent manner after lesion of dopamine neurons. Although synchronization of GP unit activity increased by almost 100-fold during beta oscillations, the mean firing rate of GP neurons decreased compared with controls. Importantly, in parkinsonian animals, two main types of GP neuron were identified according to their distinct and inversely related firing rates and patterns. Moreover, neurons of the same type tended to fire together, with small phase differences, whereas different types of neuron tended not to do so. This functional dichotomy in temporal coupling persisted across extreme brain states, suggesting that maladaptive interactions are dominated by hardwiring. Finally, the precisely timed discharges of GP and STN neurons indicated that rhythmic sequences of recurrent excitation and inhibition in the STN-GP network, and lateral inhibition between GP neurons, could actively support abnormal beta oscillations. We propose that GP neurons, by virtue of their spatiotemporal synchronization, widespread axon collaterals and feed-back/feed-forward mechanisms, are well placed to orchestrate and propagate exaggerated beta oscillations throughout the entire basal ganglia in PD.

Original publication




Journal article


J Neurosci

Publication Date





14245 - 14258


Action Potentials, Animals, Beta Rhythm, Biological Clocks, Disease Models, Animal, Globus Pallidus, Male, Nerve Net, Neural Pathways, Neurons, Oxidopamine, Parkinsonian Disorders, Rats, Rats, Sprague-Dawley, Subthalamic Nucleus