Functional segregation and integration within the human subthalamic nucleus from a micro- and meso-level perspective

B. C. M. van Wijk, A Alkemade, BU Forstmann

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The subthalamic nucleus (STN) is a core basal ganglia structure involved in the control of motor, cognitive, motivational and affective functions. The (challenged) tripartite subdivision hypothesis places these functions into distinct sensorimotor, cognitive/associative, and limbic subregions based on the topography of cortical projections. To a large extent, this hypothesis is used to motivate the choice of target coordinates for implantation of deep brain stimulation electrodes for treatment of neurological and psychiatric disorders. Yet, the parallel organization of basal ganglia circuits has been known to allow considerable cross-talk, which might contribute to the occurrence of neuropsychiatric side effects when stimulating the dorsolateral, putative sensorimotor, part of the STN for treatment of Parkinson's disease. Any functional segregation within the STN is expected to be reflected both at micro-level microscopy and meso-level neural population activity. As such, we review the current empirical evidence from anterograde tracing and immunocytochemistry studies and from local field potential recordings for delineating the STN into distinct subregions. The spatial distribution of immunoreactivity presents as a combination of gradients, and although neural activity in distinct frequency bands appears spatially clustered, there is substantial overlap in peak locations. We argue that regional specialization without sharply defined borders is likely most representative of the STN's functional organization.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103-113
Number of pages11
Early online date23 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Functional segregation and integration within the human subthalamic nucleus from a micro- and meso-level perspective'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this