The aim of the present study was to specify the involvement of the basal ganglia in motor response selection and response inhibition. Two samples were studied. The first sample consisted of patients diagnosed with Parkinson's disease (PD) who received deep-brain stimulation (DBS) of the subthalamic nucleus (STN). The second sample consisted of patients who received DBS for the treatment of PD or essential tremor (ET) in the ventral intermediate nucleus of the thalamus (Vim). Stop-signal task and go/no-go task performances were studied in both groups. Both groups performed these tasks with (on stimulation) and without (off stimulation) DBS to address the question of whether stimulation is effective in improving choice reaction time (RT) and stop-signal RT. The results show that DBS of the STN was associated with significantly enhanced inhibitory control, as indicated by shorter stop-signal RTs. An additional finding is that DBS of the STN led to significantly shorter choice RT. The effects of DBS on responding and response inhibition were functionally independent. Although DBS of the Vim did not systematically affect task performance in patients with ET, a subgroup of Vim-stimulated PD patients showed enhanced stop-signal RTs in on stimulation versus off stimulation. This result suggests that the change in performance to stop signals may not be directly related to STN function, but rather results from a change in PD function due to DBS in general. The findings are discussed in terms of current functional and neurobiological models that relate basal ganglia function to the selection and inhibition of motor responses.

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