In search of treatment of movement disorders

Research overview
Abnormal activity of the "cortico-basal ganglia (BG) motor loop" leads to various movement disorders, such as Parkinson's disease. The present study examined cortical inputs from motor cortices to the BG using nonhuman primates. The each part of the cortico-BG loop was blocked one by one using drugs injections, and neuronal activity changes were examined in order to clarify how cortical activity controls BG activity. The recording electrode with two tubes for drugs microinjections was introduced to the region of interest for this purpose.

Several parts of the brain are involved in the control of voluntary movements. One of them is the structure called basal ganglia (BG), which are composed of several nuclei (a group of neuronal cells) and work together with the cerebral cortex. It was found that the malfunction of cortico-BG loop leads to movement disorders, such as Parkinson's disease. The motor symptoms of the disease include tremor and slowness of movement, as well as a loss of balance. The main aim of our research is to clarify how motor cortex controls BG activity. These results will give us the basics to understand pathophysiology of these movement disorders.

To shed some light on this issue we recorded the activity of neurons in the BG of macaque monkeys with drugs (neuronal blockers) local injections into one of BG nuclei. Then, we are able to clarify the impact of the pathways of the motor information transmission.

The findings of our research are important for understanding the mechanisms of movement disorders and the development of more effective manipulation targets or methods to treat Parkinson's disease.

Bibliographic information of awarded paper

Cortical Control of Subthalamic Neuronal Activity through the Hyperdirect and Indirect Pathways in Monkeys
Zlata Polyakova, Satomi Chiken, Nobuhiko Hatanaka, Atsushi Nambu
Journal of Neuroscience, 2020, 40 (39) 7451-7463

  • Current position: Postdoctoral researcher, Center for Human Nature, Artificial Intelligence, and Neuroscience (CHAIN), Hokkaido University; Japan.
  • Research interests: Electrophysiology, neuroimaging, immunohistochemistry, molecular biology, animal behavior, statistics, and programming.
  • Education: Ph.D., 2016 - 2019, SOKENDAI, Department of Physiological Sciences; National Institute for Physiological Sciences, Division of System Neurophysiology; Japan.
     BSc & MSc, 2010 - 2016, Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (State University), Department of Nano-, Bio-, Informational and Cognitive Technology; Russia.

School of Life Sciences, Department of Physiological Sciences, Polyakova Zlata