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Gait disturbances in Parkinson's disease are commonly refractory to current treatment options and majorly impair patient's quality of life. Auditory cues facilitate gait and prevent motor blocks. We investigated how neural dynamics in the human subthalamic nucleus of Parkinsons's disease patients (14 male, 2 female) vary during stepping and whether rhythmic auditory cues enhance the observed modulation. Oscillations in the beta band were suppressed after ipsilateral heel strikes, when the contralateral foot had to be raised, and reappeared after contralateral heel strikes, when the contralateral foot rested on the floor. The timing of this 20-30 Hz beta modulation was clearly distinct between the left and right subthalamic nucleus, and was alternating within each stepping cycle. This modulation was similar, whether stepping movements were made while sitting, standing, or during gait, confirming the utility of the stepping in place paradigm. During stepping in place, beta modulation increased with auditory cues that assisted patients in timing their steps more regularly. Our results suggest a link between the degree of power modulation within high beta frequency bands and stepping performance. These findings raise the possibility that alternating deep brain stimulation patterns may be superior to constant stimulation for improving parkinsonian gait.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Gait disturbances in Parkinson's disease majorly reduce patients' quality of life and are often refractory to current treatment options. We investigated how neural activity in the subthalamic nucleus of patients who received deep brain stimulation surgery covaries with the stepping cycle. 20-30 Hz beta activity was modulated relative to each step, alternating between the left and right STN. The stepping performance of patients improved when auditory cues were provided, which went along with enhanced beta modulation. This raises the possibility that alternating stimulation patterns may also enhance beta modulation and may be more beneficial for gait control than continuous stimulation, which needs to be tested in future studies.

Original publication




Journal article


J Neurosci

Publication Date





5111 - 5121


Parkinson's disease, auditory cueing, beta modulation, freezing of gait, stepping-related STN activity