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Increasing evidence suggests a considerable role of pre-movement beta bursts for motor control and its impairment in Parkinson's disease. However, whether beta bursts occur during precise and prolonged movements and if they affect fine motor control remains unclear. To investigate the role of within-movement beta bursts for fine motor control, we here combine invasive electrophysiological recordings and clinical deep brain stimulation in the subthalamic nucleus in 19 patients with Parkinson's disease performing a context-varying task that comprised template-guided and free spiral drawing. We determined beta bursts in narrow frequency bands around patient-specific peaks and assessed burst amplitude, duration, and their immediate impact on drawing speed. We reveal that beta bursts occur during the execution of drawing movements with reduced duration and amplitude in comparison to rest. Exclusively when drawing freely, they parallel reductions in acceleration. Deep brain stimulation increases the acceleration around beta bursts in addition to a general increase in drawing velocity and improvements of clinical function. These results provide evidence for a diverse and task-specific role of subthalamic beta bursts for fine motor control in Parkinson's disease; suggesting that pathological beta bursts act in a context dependent manner, which can be targeted by clinical deep brain stimulation.

Original publication




Journal article


Nat Commun

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