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Review: Electrophysiology of Basal Ganglia and Cortex in Models of Parkinson Disease


Incomplete understanding of the systems-level pathophysiology of Parkinson Disease (PD) remains a significant barrier to improving its treatment. Substantial progress has been made, however, due to the availability of neurotoxins that selectively target monoaminergic (in particular, dopaminergic) neurons. This review discusses the in vivo electrophysiology of basal ganglia (BG), thalamic, and cortical regions after dopamine-depleting lesions. These include firing rate changes, neuronal burst-firing, neuronal oscillations, and neuronal synchrony that result from a combination of local microanatomic changes and network-level interactions. While much is known of the clinical and electrophysiological phenomenology of dopamine loss, a critical gap in our conception of PD pathophysiology is the link between them. We discuss potential mechanisms by which these systems-level electrophysiological changes may emerge, as well as how they may relate to clinical parkinsonism. Proposals for an updated understanding of BG function are reviewed, with an emphasis on how emerging frameworks will guide future research into the pathophysiology and treatment of PD.