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AbstractParkinson’s disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative condition in which aberrant oscillatory synchronization of neuronal activity at beta frequencies (15-35 Hz) across the cortico-basal ganglia-thalamocortical circuit is associated with debilitating motor symptoms, such as bradykinesia and rigidity. Mounting evidence suggests that the magnitude of beta synchrony in the parkinsonian state fluctuates over time, but the mechanisms by which thalamocortical circuitry regulates the dynamic properties of cortical beta in PD are poorly understood. Using the recently developed generic dynamic causal modelling framework, we recursively optimised a set of plausible models of the thalamocortical circuit (n=144) to infer the neural mechanisms that best explain the transitions between low and high beta power states observed in recordings of field potentials made in the motor cortex of anesthetized Parkinsonian rats. Bayesian model comparison suggests that upregulation of cortical rhythmic activity in the beta-frequency band results from changes in the coupling strength both between and within the thalamus and motor cortex. Specifically, our model indicates that high levels of cortical beta synchrony are mainly achieved by a delayed (extrinsic) input from thalamic relay cells to deep pyramidal cells and a fast (intrinsic) input from middle pyramidal cells to superficial pyramidal cells. We therefore hypothesize that beta synchronisation at the cortical level could selectively be modulated via interventions that are capable of finely regulating cortical excitability in a spatial (delivered to either the superficial or deep cortical laminae) and time specific manner.

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