The basic information architecture in the basal ganglia circuit is under debate. Whereas anatomical studies quantify extensive convergence/ divergence patterns in the circuit, suggesting an information sharing scheme, neurophysiological studies report an absence of linear correlation between single neurones in normal animals, suggesting a segregated parallel processing scheme. In 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP)-treated monkeys and in parkinsonian patients single neurones become linearly correlated, thus leading to a loss of segregation between neurones. Here we propose a possible integrative solution to this debate, by extending the concept of functional segregation from the cellular level to the network level. To this end, we recorded local field potentials (LFPs) from electrodes implanted for deep brain stimulation (DBS) in the subthalamic nucleus (STN) of parkinsonian patients. By applying bispectral analysis, we found that in the absence of dopamine stimulation STN LFP rhythms became non-linearly correlated, thus leading to a loss of segregation between rhythms. Non-linear correlation was particularly consistent between the low-beta rhythm (13-20 Hz) and the high-beta rhythm (20-35 Hz). Levodopa administration significantly decreased these non-linear correlations, therefore increasing segregation between rhythms. These results suggest that the extensive convergence/divergence in the basal ganglia circuit is physiologically necessary to sustain LFP rhythms distributed in large ensembles of neurones, but is not sufficient to induce correlated firing between neurone pairs. Conversely, loss of dopamine generates pathological linear correlation between neurone pairs, alters the patterns within LFP rhythms, and induces non-linear correlation between LFP rhythms operating at different frequencies. The pathophysiology of information processing in the human basal ganglia therefore involves not only activities of individual rhythms, but also interactions between rhythms.
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