Functional circuit mapping of striatal output nuclei using simultaneous deep brain stimulation and fMRI.

PMID 27825979


The substantia nigra pars reticulata (SNr) and external globus pallidus (GPe) constitute the two major output targets of the rodent striatum. Both the SNr and GPe converge upon thalamic relay nuclei (directly or indirectly, respectively), and are traditionally modeled as functionally antagonistic relay inputs. However, recent anatomical and functional studies have identified unanticipated circuit connectivity in both the SNr and GPe, demonstrating their potential as far more than relay nuclei. In the present study, we employed simultaneous deep brain stimulation and functional magnetic resonance imaging (DBS-fMRI) with cerebral blood volume (CBV) measurements to functionally and unbiasedly map the circuit- and network level connectivity of the SNr and GPe. Sprague-Dawley rats were implanted with a custom-made MR-compatible stimulating electrode in the right SNr (n=6) or GPe (n=7). SNr- and GPe-DBS, conducted across a wide range of stimulation frequencies, revealed a number of surprising evoked responses, including unexpected CBV decreases within the striatum during DBS at either target, as well as GPe-DBS-evoked positive modulation of frontal cortex. Functional connectivity MRI revealed global modulation of neural networks during DBS at either target, sensitive to stimulation frequency and readily reversed following cessation of stimulation. This work thus contributes to a growing literature demonstrating extensive and unanticipated functional connectivity among basal ganglia nuclei.