Oscillations and the basal ganglia: Motor control and beyond

John Stuart Brittain, Peter Brown*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

186 Citations (Scopus)


Oscillations form a ubiquitous feature of the central nervous system. Evidence is accruing from cortical and sub-cortical recordings that these rhythms may be functionally important, although the precise details of their roles remain unclear. The basal ganglia share this predilection for rhythmic activity which, as we see in Parkinson's disease, becomes further enhanced in the dopamine depleted state. While certain cortical rhythms appear to penetrate the basal ganglia, others are transformed or blocked. Here, we discuss the functional association of oscillations in the basal ganglia and their relationship with cortical activity. We further explore the neural underpinnings of such oscillatory activity, including the important balance to be struck between facilitating information transmission and limiting information coding capacity. Finally, we introduce the notion that synchronised oscillatory activity can be broadly categorised as immutability promoting rhythms that reinforce incumbent processes, and mutability promoting rhythms that favour novel processing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)637-647
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2014


  • Basal ganglia
  • Cross-frequency
  • Deep brain stimulation
  • Immutable
  • Information theory
  • Parkinson's disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Neurology


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