Deep brain stimulation of subthalamic nuclei affects arm response inhibition in Parkinson's patients

G. Mirabella, S. Iaconelli, P. Romanelli, N. Modugno, F. Lena, M. Manfredi, G. Cantore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The precise localizations of the neural substrates of voluntary inhibition are still debated. It has been hypothesized that, in humans, this executive function relies upon a right-lateralized pathway comprising the inferior frontal gyrus and the presupplementary motor area, which would control the neural processes for movement inhibition acting through the right subthalamic nucleus (STN). We assessed the role of the right STN, via a countermanding reaching task, in 10 Parkinson's patients receiving high-frequency electrical stimulation of the STN of both hemispheres (deep brain stimulation, DBS) and in 13 healthy subjects. We compared the performance of Parkinson's patients in 4 experimental conditions: DBS-ON, DBS-OFF, DBS-OFF right, and DBS-OFF left. We found that 1) inhibitory control is improved only when both DBS are active, that is, the reaction time to the stop signal is significantly shorter in the DBS-ON condition than in all the others, 2) bilateral stimulation of STN restores the inhibitory control to a near-normal level, and 3) DBS does not cause a general improvement in task-related motor function as it does not affect the length of the reaction times of arm movements, that is, in our experimental context, STN seems to play a selective role in response inhibition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1124-1132
Number of pages9
JournalCerebral Cortex
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2012


  • countermanding
  • deep brain stimulation (DBS)
  • reaching arm movements
  • stop-task
  • voluntary inhibition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

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