Indexed on: 01 Mar '12Published on: 01 Mar '12Published in: Experimental Neurology
In this study we asked whether subthalamic nucleus deep brain stimulation (STN-DBS) alone, or in combination with l-dopa, modifies voluntary, spontaneous and reflex blinking in patients with Parkinson's disease (PD). Sixteen PD patients who underwent STN-DBS were studied in four experimental conditions: without STN-DBS and without l-dopa, STN-DBS alone, l-dopa alone and STN-DBS plus l-dopa. The results were compared with those obtained in 15 healthy controls. Voluntary blinking was assessed by asking participants to blink as fast as possible; spontaneous blinking was recorded during two 60s rest periods; reflex blinking was evoked by electrical stimulation of the supraorbital nerve. Blinking were recorded and analysed with the SMART motion system. STN-DBS increased the peak velocity and amplitude for both the closing and opening voluntary blink phases, but prolonged the inter-phase pause duration. l-dopa had no effects on voluntary blinking but reversed the increased inter-phase pause duration seen during STN-DBS. Spontaneous blink rate increased after either STN-DBS or l-dopa. Reflex blinking kinematics were not modified by STN-DBS or l-dopa. The STN-DBS effects on voluntary blinking kinematics and spontaneous blinking rate may occur as results of changes of cortico-basal ganglia activity. The prolonged pause duration of voluntary blinking indicates that STN-DBS has detrimental effects on the cranial region. These results also shed light on the pathophysiology of eyelids opening apraxia following STN-DBS.