In Huntington’s disease (HD), motor symptoms develop prior to the widespread loss of neurons in striatum and cerebral cortex. The aim of this study was to examine dysfunctional patterns of corticostriatal communication during spontaneously occurring behaviors in a transgenic mouse model of HD.
Local field potentials (LFPs) were recorded from two closely interconnected areas, motor cortex and dorsal striatum, in wild-type controls (WT, n = 14) and a widely used transgenic HD model (R6/2 mice, n = 12). All mice were between the ages of 7–9 weeks, a critical period of motor symptom development in R6/2s. Recordings were obtained while the mice were behaving freely in an open field. Specific LFP activity was extracted using timestamps for three increasingly demanding motor behaviors: 1) resting; 2) grooming; and 3) active exploration. Power spectral densities (PSD) were obtained for the cortical and striatal LFPs as well as coherence levels and relative phase across the frequency spectrum. In both brain regions, only R6/2s showed high frequency LFP oscillations during rest and grooming. As behavior increased from resting to exploring, corticostriatal synchrony at high frequencies declined in R6/2s, completely opposite to the WT pattern. R6/2s also exhibited nearly in-phase corticostriatal activity (cortex phase leads of ~5°), while the WTs consistently showed cortical phase lags of ~20° across all assessed behaviors, indicating a lead role for striatum.