High-frequency pallidal stimulation eliminates tic-related neuronal activity in a nonhuman primate model of Tourette syndrome

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High-frequency deep brain stimulation targeting the output nucleus of the basal ganglia, the globus pallidus internus, has been suggested as a treatment modality for intractable Tourette syndrome and basal-ganglia-mediated motor tics. Recent studies on the modeling of motor tics induced by focal injections of bicuculline to the striatum, a putative model of Tourette syndrome, have shown that tics induce a widespread modulation within both segments of the globus pallidus. The purpose of this study was to investigate, using the bicuculline-induced Tourette syndrome model, whether and how high-frequency deep brain stimulation targeted to the globus pallidus internus could modulate tic-related activity in the pallidum. The perievent rate changes coinciding with tic expression under the on-stimulation and off-stimulation conditions were examined to determine the effect of high-frequency stimulation on pallidal activity. The results showed that the stimulation blocked tic-related phasic changes in the firing pattern of pallidal cells in parallel with a reduction of the peak amplitude of tic events in the electromyography record. This finding supports the premise that deep brain stimulation targeted to the globus pallidus internus could be a viable treatment option for Tourette syndrome, and the use of pallidal stimulation for motor tics warrants further study.

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