Stimulation of Subthalamic Nuclei Restores a Near Normal Planning Strategy in Parkinson's Patients

Giovanni Mirabella, Sara Iaconelli, Nicola Modugno, Giorgio Giannini, Francesco Lena, Gianpaolo Cantore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A fundamental function of the motor system is to gather key information from the environment in order to implement behavioral strategies appropriate to the context. Although several lines of evidence indicate that Parkinson's disease affects the ability to modify behavior according to task requirements, it is currently unknown whether deep brain stimulation (DBS) of the subthalamic nucleus (STN) affects context-related planning. To explore this issue, we asked 12 Parkinson's patients with bilateral STN DBS and 13 healthy subjects to execute similar arm reaching movements in two different paradigms: go-only and countermanding tasks. In the former task patients had to perform speeded reaching movements to a peripheral target. In contrast, in the countermanding task participants had to perform the same reaches unless an infrequent and unpredictable stop-signal was shown during the reaction time (RT) indicating that they should withhold the ongoing action. We compared the performance of Parkinson's patients in different DBS conditions. We found that patients with both DBS-ON behaved similarly to healthy subjects, in that RTs of no-stop trial increased while movement times (MTs) decreased with respect to those of go-only-trials. However, when both DBS were off, both RTs and MTs were longer in no-stop trials than in go-only trials. These findings indicate that bilateral DBS of STN can partially restore the appropriate motor strategy according to the given cognitive contexts.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere62793
JournalPLoS One
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 3 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)


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