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Séminaire impromptu - Mark BevanPlasticity of the subthalamic nucleus in health and Parkinson’s disease

Abstract :

The debilitating symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are associated with abnormally widespread and persistent synchronous rhythmic activity in the cortico-basal ganglia-thalamo-cortical loop.  In acute lesion models of Parkinson’s disease abnormal activity takes several weeks to emerge following the loss of dopamine, implying that plasticity within the loop underlies its expression.  Although the subthalamic nucleus is the smallest component of the basal ganglia, its activity is intimately linked to motor function and dysfunction.  Furthermore, correction of subthalamic nucleus activity by deep brain electrical stimulation or L-DOPA therapy profoundly ameliorates Parkinsonian symptoms.  In this seminar I will argue that homeostatic plasticity processes within the subthalamic nucleus are hijacked in Parkinson’s disease and its experimental models and contribute fundamentally to the expression of abnormal activity and motor dysfunction.

Selected publications

Short-term depression of external globus pallidus-subthalamic nucleus synaptic transmission and implications for patterning subthalamic activity Atherton JF, Menard A, Urbain N, Bevan MD.
Journal of Neuroscience. 2013 Apr 24;33(17):7130-7144.doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3576-12.2013.PMID: 23616523   ISSN: 02706474

 Proliferation of external globus pallidus-subthalamic nucleus synapses following degeneration of midbrain dopamine neurons Fan KY, Baufreton J, Surmeier DJ, Chan CS, Bevan MD.Journal of Neuroscience. 2012 Oct 3;32(40):13718-13728.doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5750-11.2012.
PMID: 23035084   PMCID: PMC3475197   ISSN: 02706474

Introduction to the special edition: Function and dysfunction of the basal ganglia Bevan MD. Neuroscience. 2011 Dec 15;198:1-2.doi:10.1016/j.neuroscience.2011.10.001.PMID: 21996475   ISSN: 03064522

Intrinsic dynamics and synaptic inputs control the activity patterns of subthalamic nucleus neurons in health and in Parkinson's disease Wilson CJ, Bevan MD. Neuroscience. 2011 Dec 15;198:54-68.doi:10.1016/j.neuroscience.2011.06.049. PMID: 21723918   PMCID: PMC3206160   ISSN: 03064522

Scientific focus :

My research focuses on the basal ganglia, a group of subcortical brain nuclei that are critical for voluntary movement and associative learning and are the primary sites of dysfunction in Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, obsessive-compulsive disorder and addiction. My objectives are to define the principles underlying the normal and pathological operation of the basal ganglia. My hope is that this information will provide the foundation for the rational development of corrective or neuroprotective therapies.

Jérôme Baufreton (jerome.baufreton @


Mark Bevan
PhD: University of Manchester (1993) Associate Professor
The Bevan Lab, Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine. Tarry Building, 300 E Superior St, Chicago IL 60611