Neuromodulation in Parkinson’s disease: How does neural network activity change in disease and how can we compensate with deep brain stimulation?

Neuromodulation in the Parkinsonian brain

Background and problem statement

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a debilitating movement disorder and the 2nd most common neurodegenerative disease. Due to dysfunction of the basal ganglia in the brain, PD patients suffer from resting tremor, rigidity, akinesia, and postural instability. Neuromodulation of the brain pharmacologically or electrically via deep brain stimulation (DBS) has been shown to alleviate the motor symptoms of PD and reduce pathological oscillations in the basal ganglia. However, the origin of these oscillations and therapeutic mechanisms of action of DBS remain subjects of debate. To improve current therapies and to find new treatments for PD, it is imperative that we answer these outstanding questions.


There are several approaches to address our research questions and thus several types of projects are possible:


In vitro experiments with multielectrode array recordings from brain slices (Fig 1)


In vivo experiments: recordings, stimulation (Fig 2)


Signal analysis of neuronal recordings (spontaneous & stimulation induced)


Computational modeling of network dynamics


Quantitative behavioral assessments (Fig 2)


Imaging of slices (e.g. Calcium imaging)


Histology of tissues



Literature review on Parkinson’s disease & methods of characterizing, modeling, or treating the disease


Perform experiments


Analyze and compare the results


Prepare a final report and presentation

Educational program


Research themes

From Cellular Mechanisms to Neural Circuit Behavior

From Neural Circuit Behaviour to Human Sensory-Motor Function

Principal Investigator track

Richard van Wezel

Ciska Heida

Supervision and info

Yan Zhao