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Neuroscience Graduate Program at UCSF

Faculty - Philip Starr, M.D., Ph.D.

Physiology of movement disorders in humans

Research Description

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.

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Current Projects

Mapping the Parkinsonian motor network and its response to therapy using combined cortical and basal ganglia recording

Cortical networks in primary dystonia

The prefrontal cortex in Parkinson’s disease: the neural basis for abnormal mood and cognition

Feedback-controlled deep brain stimulation using a totally implanted bidirectional interface

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Lab Members

Coralie de Hemptinne, PhD, postdoctoral fellow
Nicole Swann, PhD, postdoctoral fellow
Sjvetlana Miocinovic, MD, PhD, postdoctoral fellow
Salman Qasim, BS, research analyst

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Selected Publications

de Hemptinne C, Ryapolova-Webb ES, Air EL, Garcia PA, Miller KJ, Ojemann JG, Ostrem JL, Galifianakis NB, Starr PA. Exaggerated phase-amplitude coupling in the primary motor cortex in Parkinson disease. PNAS 2013;110(12):4780-5.

Shimamoto SA, Ryapolova-Webb ES, Ostrem JL, Galifianakis NB, Miller KJ, Starr PA. Subthalamic nucleus neurons are synchronized to primary motor cortex local field potentials in Parkinson's disease. J Neurosci. 2013;33(17):7220-33.

Crowell AL, Ryapolova-Webb ES, Ostrem JL, Galifianakis NB, Shimamoto S, Lim DA, Starr PA. Oscillations in sensorimotor cortex in movement disorders: an electrocorticography study. Brain. 2012;135(Pt 2):615-30..

Ryapolova-Webb E, Afshar P, Stanslaski S, Denison T, de Hemptinne C, Bankiewicz K, Starr PA. Chronic cortical and electromyographic recordings from a fully implantable device: preclinical experience in a nonhuman primate. J Neural Engineering. 2014;11(1):016009.

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Philip Starr, M.D., Ph.D.




Office Address

UCSF MC 0112
505 Parnassus, Room M-779
San Francisco, CA 94143

Other Websites

Lab Website

Center for Neural Engineering & Prostheses