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Kahan J.,University College London | Mancini L.,National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery UCLH NHS Foundation Trust | Mancini L.,University College London | Urner M.,University College London | And 14 more authors.

Deep brain stimulation of the subthalamic nucleus (STN DBS) has become an accepted treatment for patients experiencing the motor complications of Parkinson's disease (PD). While its successes are becoming increasingly apparent, the mechanisms underlying its action remain unclear. Multiple studies using radiotracer-based imaging have investigated DBS-induced regional changes in neural activity. However, little is known about the effect of DBS on connectivity within neural networks; in other words, whether DBS impacts upon functional integration of specialized regions of cortex. In this work, we report the first findings of fMRI in 10 subjects with PD and fully implanted DBS hardware receiving efficacious stimulation. Despite the technical demands associated with the safe acquisition of fMRI data from patients with implanted hardware, robust activation changes were identified in the insula cortex and thalamus in response to therapeutic STN DBS. We then quantified the neuromodulatory effects of DBS and compared sixteen dynamic causal models of effective connectivity between the two identified nodes. Using Bayesian model comparison, we found unequivocal evidence for the modulation of extrinsic (between region), i.e. cortico-thalamic and thalamo-cortical connections. Using Bayesian model parameter averaging we found that during voluntary movements, DBS reversed the effective connectivity between regions of the cortex and thalamus. This casts the therapeutic effects of DBS in a fundamentally new light, emphasising a role in changing distributed cortico-subcortical interactions. We conclude that STN DBS does impact upon the effective connectivity between the cortex and thalamus by changing their sensitivities to extrinsic afferents. Furthermore, we confirm that fMRI is both feasible and is tolerated well by these patients provided strict safety measures are adhered to. © 2012 Kahan et al. Source

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