Local vs. volume conductance activity of field potentials in the human subthalamic nucleus

Subthalamic nucleus field potentials have attracted growing research and clinical interest over the last few decades. However, it is unclear whether subthalamic field potentials represent locally generated neuronal subthreshold activity or volume conductance of the organized neuronal activity generated in the cortex. This study aimed at understanding of the physiological origin of subthalamic field potentials and determining the most accurate method for recording them. We compared different methods of recordings in the human subthalamic nucleus: spikes (300–9,000 Hz) and field potentials (3–100 Hz) recorded by monopolar micro- and macroelectrodes, as well as by differential-bipolar macroelectrodes. The recordings were done outside and inside the subthalamic nucleus during electrophysiological navigation for deep brain stimulation procedures (150 electrode trajectories) in 41 Parkinson’s disease patients. We modeled the signal and estimated the contribution of nearby/independent vs. remote/common activity in each recording configuration and area. Monopolar micro- and macroelectrode recordings detect field potentials that are considerably affected by common (probably cortical) activity. However, bipolar macroelectrode recordings inside the subthalamic nucleus can detect locally generated potentials. These results are confirmed by high correspondence between the model predictions and actual correlation of neuronal activity recorded by electrode pairs. Differential bipolar macroelectrode subthalamic field potentials can overcome volume conductance effects and reflect locally generated neuronal activity. Bipolar macroelectrode local field potential recordings might be used as a biological marker of normal and pathological brain functions for future electrophysiological studies and navigation systems as well as for closed-loop deep brain stimulation paradigms.

Authors: Marmor O, Valsky D, Joshua M, Bick AS, Arkadir D, Tamir I, Bergman H, Israel Z, Eitan R.
Year of publication: 2017
Journal: Journal of Neurophysiology 117(6):2140-2151

Link to publication:


“Working memory”