Philip Starr, MD, PHD

Professor
Neurological Surgery

Physiology of movement disorders in humans

The Starr lab is interested in the brain network disturbances underlying neuropsychiatric disorders. In Parkinson’s disease and related disorders, the emerging model is that abnormalities in neuronal synchronization are key to symptom expression. Until recently this theory had only been evaluated in basal ganglia recordings. We introduced the technique of electrocorticography to the study of movement disorders in humans, and recently showed that primary motor cortex in PD has markedly elevated synchronization of population spiking activity to the motor beta rhythm. This constrains motor cortical output to an inflexible pattern that likely underlies akinesia (difficulty initiating movement). We are investigating related abnormalities in the motor cortex in humans with primary generalized dystonia, and in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex in PD patients with cognitive impairment. We utilize a variety of technical approaches in human neurophysiology, including single unit recording, field potential and electrocorticographic recording (acute and chronic), and scalp electroencephalography.  In the future, our work will increasingly focus on recording from totally implanted bidirectional neural interfaces, as well as analyses of frontal lobe/basal ganglia circuits relevant to cognitive function and psychiatric disorders.

Current Projects

  1. Mapping the Parkinsonian motor network and its response to therapy using combined cortical and basal ganglia recording
  2. Cortical networks in primary dystonia
  3. The prefrontal cortex in Parkinson’s disease: the neural basis for abnormal mood and cognition
  4. Feedback-controlled deep brain stimulation using a totally implanted bidirectional interface

Lab Members

Coralie De Hemptinne
Postdoctoral Fellow
coralie.dehemptinne@ucsf.edu

Nicole Swann
Postdoctoral Fellow
nicole.swann@ucsf.edu

Svjetlana Miocinovic
Postdoctoral Fellow
svjetlana.miocinovic@ucsf.edu

Lab Website

Publications: