Functional connectivity maps of theta/alpha and beta coherence within the subthalamic nucleus region.

van Wijk BCM, Neumann WJ, Kroneberg D, Horn A, Irmen F, Sander TH, Wang Q, Litvak V, Kühn AA.


The subthalamic nucleus (STN) is a primary target for deep brain stimulation in Parkinson’s disease (PD). Although small in size, the STN is commonly partitioned into sensorimotor, cognitive/associative, and limbic subregions based on its structural connectivity profile to cortical areas. We investigated whether such a regional specialization is also supported by functional connectivity between local field potential recordings and simultaneous magnetoencephalography. Using a novel data set of 21 PD patients, we replicated previously reported cortico-STN coherence networks in the theta/alpha and beta frequency ranges, and looked for the spatial distribution of these networks within the STN region. Although theta/alpha and beta coherence peaks were both observed in on-medication recordings from electrode contacts at several locations within and around the STN, sites with theta/alpha coherence peaks were situated at significantly more inferior MNI coordinates than beta coherence peaks. Sites with only theta/alpha coherence peaks, i.e. without distinct beta coherence, were mostly located near the border of sensorimotor and cognitive/associative subregions as defined by a tractography-based atlas of the STN. Peak coherence values were largely unaltered by the medication state of the subject, however, theta/alpha peaks were more often identified in recordings obtained after administration of dopaminergic medication. Our findings suggest the existence of a frequency-specific topography of cortico-STN coherence within the STN, albeit with considerable spatial overlap between functional networks. Consequently, optimization of deep brain stimulation targeting might remain a trade-off between alleviating motor symptoms and avoiding adverse neuropsychiatric side effects.

Published: Aug 2022