Subthalamic deep brain stimulation affects heading perception in Parkinson's disease.

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Parkinson's disease (PD) presents with visuospatial impairment and falls. It is critical to understand how subthalamic deep brain stimulation (STN DBS) modulates visuospatial perception. We hypothesized that DBS has different effects on visual and vestibular perception of linear motion (heading), a critical aspect of visuospatial navigation; and such effects are specific to modulated STN location. Two-alternative forced-choice experiments were performed in 14 PD patients with bilateral STN DBS and 19 age-matched healthy controls (HC) during passive en bloc linear motion and 3D optic-flow in immersive virtual reality measured vestibular and visual heading. Objective measure of perception with Weibull psychometric function revealed that PD has significantly lower accuracy [L: 60.71 (17.86)%, R: 74.82 (17.44)%] and higher thresholds [L: 16.68 (12.83), R: 10.09 (7.35)] during vestibular task in both directions compared to HC (p  0.05). Patient-specific DBS models revealed an association between change in vestibular heading perception and the modulation of the dorsal STN. In summary, DBS may have different effects on vestibular and visual heading perception in PD. These effects may manifest via dorsal STN putatively by its effects on the cerebellum.


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Authors: Sinem Balta Beylergil, Angela M Noecker, Mikkel Petersen, Palak Gupta, Sarah Ozinga, Mark F Walker, Camilla Kilbane, Cameron C McIntyre, Aasef G Shaikh

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