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Involvement of the subthalamic nucleus in cognitive functions — A concept

  • Marek Baláž
    Affiliations
    Central European Institute of Technology — CEITEC, Department of Neurology, St. Anne's University Hospital, Medical School of Masaryk University, Pekařská 53, 656 91 Brno, Czech Republic
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  • Martina Bočková
    Affiliations
    Central European Institute of Technology — CEITEC, Department of Neurology, St. Anne's University Hospital, Medical School of Masaryk University, Pekařská 53, 656 91 Brno, Czech Republic
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  • Irena Rektorová
    Affiliations
    Central European Institute of Technology — CEITEC, Department of Neurology, St. Anne's University Hospital, Medical School of Masaryk University, Pekařská 53, 656 91 Brno, Czech Republic
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  • Ivan Rektor
    Correspondence
    Corresponding author. Tel.: +420 54318 2658.
    Affiliations
    Central European Institute of Technology — CEITEC, Department of Neurology, St. Anne's University Hospital, Medical School of Masaryk University, Pekařská 53, 656 91 Brno, Czech Republic
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Published:September 14, 2011DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jns.2011.07.016

      Abstract

      The involvement of the subthalamic nucleus (STN) in a broad spectrum of various non-motor functions – attention, executive functions, verbal learning and memory, verbal abstract reasoning, conflict resolution, and emotions – has been reported. The STN has an anatomically central position within the basal ganglia(BG)-thalamocortical motor, associative and limbic circuits. The STN might interfere with non-motor functions as an indirect modulator rather than a regulator. Mechanisms modulating the motor and non-motor functions might differ. The STN has been implicated in control of non-motor behaviors via the tuning of specific circuits depending on the task. The STN might modulate selected non-motor functions via contextual modulation of certain cortical areas. Based on intracerebral recordings, we proposed that the non-motor activities in the BG are organized in some way other than the well-known organization of the cortico-BG-thalamocortical circuits. These findings support the hypothesis of a cortico-STN bypass of the BG-thalamocortical circuitry under some circumstances. The exact role of the STN and the BG in non-motor functions remains an important and interesting challenge for future research.

      Keywords

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