Bilateral high frequency stimulation of the subthalamic nucleus on attentional performance: transient deleterious effects and enhanced motivation in both intact and parkinsonian rats


  • Baunez Christelle
  • Christakou A.
  • Yogita Chudasema
  • Forni Claude
  • Robbins Trevor W.


  • Basal ganglia
  • Cognitive functions
  • Deep brain stimulation
  • Dopamine

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It is now well established that subthalamic nucleus high-frequency stimulation (STN HFS) alleviates motor problems in Parkinson's disease. However, its efficacy for cognitive function remains a matter of debate. The aim of this study was to assess the effects of STN HFS in rats performing a visual attentional task. Bilateral STN HFS was applied in intact and in bilaterally dopamine (DA)-depleted rats. In all animals, STN HFS had a transient debilitating effect on all the variables measured in the task. In DA-depleted rats, STN HFS did not alleviate the deficits induced by the DA lesion such as omissions and latency to make correct responses, but induced perseverative approaches to the food magazine, an indicator of enhanced motivation. In sham-operated controls, STN HFS significantly reduced accuracy and induced perseverative behaviour, mimicking partially the effects of bilateral STN lesions in the same task. These results are in line with the hypothesis that STN HFS only partially mimics inactivation of STN produced by lesioning and confirm the motivational exacerbation induced by STN inactivation.

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