Short pauses in thalamic deep brain stimulation promote tremor and neuronal bursting

Brandon D. Swan, David T. Brocker, Justin D. Hilliard, Stephen B. Tatter, Robert E. Gross, Dennis A. Turner, Warren M. Grill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Objective: We conducted intraoperative measurements of tremor during DBS containing short pauses (≤50 ms) to determine if there is a minimum pause duration that preserves tremor suppression. Methods: Nine subjects with ET and thalamic DBS participated during IPG replacement surgery. Patterns of DBS included regular 130 Hz stimulation interrupted by 0, 15, 25 or 50 ms pauses. The same patterns were applied to a model of the thalamic network to quantify effects of pauses on activity of model neurons. Results: All patterns of DBS decreased tremor relative to 'off'. Patterns with pauses generated less tremor reduction than regular high frequency DBS. The model revealed that rhythmic burst-driver inputs to thalamus were masked during DBS, but pauses in stimulation allowed propagation of bursting activity. The mean firing rate of bursting-type model neurons as well as the firing pattern entropy of model neurons were both strongly correlated with tremor power across stimulation conditions. Conclusions: The temporal pattern of stimulation influences the efficacy of thalamic DBS. Pauses in stimulation resulted in decreased tremor suppression indicating that masking of pathological bursting is a mechanism of thalamic DBS for tremor. Significance: Pauses in stimulation decreased the efficacy of open-loop DBS for suppression of tremor.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1551-1559
Number of pages9
JournalClinical Neurophysiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 International Federation of Clinical Neurophysiology.


  • Computational model
  • Deep brain stimulation
  • Essential tremor
  • Movement disorders
  • Thalamus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sensory Systems
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Physiology (medical)


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