Recent studies have found that patients with schizophrenia and impulsive-compulsive behaviors have more functional magnetic resonance imaging activation in the subthalamic nucleus region than those without these behaviors. Nonetheless, whether subthalamic nucleus (STN) cells are spontaneously active or are driven by other basal ganglia regions remains ambiguous.

The focus was on temporal and spectral characteristics of 412 subthalamic neurons from 12 patients with PD and impulsive-compulsive behaviors and 330 neurons from 12 patients with PD without impulsive-compulsive disorder. Single-unit actions were separated from experimental micro recordings performed during deep brain stimulation (DBS) embedding a medical procedure in an OFF drug state.

During bursts, patients with impulsive-compulsive behaviors had lower firing frequency and a higher fraction of tonic neurons, as well as weaker beta coherence. Patients with impulsive-compulsive behaviors were identified with an accuracy of more than 80% using the information carried by these features.

In the OFF medication state, impulsive-compulsive behaviors in patients with PD are linked to reduced bursts in STN neurons.

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