Differentiation of Oscillatory Brain Networks Subserving Bicycling and Walking Movements in Parkinson’s Disease

Project Members

Dr. Sarang Dalal, Department of Psychology, University of Konstanz

Prof. Dietmar Saupe, Dr. Maciej Gratkowski, Nitin Sharma, Department of Computer and Information Science,  University of Konstanz

Prof. Alfons Schnitzler, Dr. Markus Butz, Lena Storzer, Institute of Clinical Neuroscience and Medical Psychology, University of Düsseldorf

Contact Person at MMSP Group

Dr. Maciej Gratkowski

Project Description

In this project we will have the rare opportunity to record brain activity directly from the basal ganglia in Parkinson’s disease patients. These patients have been implanted electrodes for deep brain stimulation at the Düsseldorf Movement Disorders Clinic at the Heinrich Heine University (Prof. Alfons Schnitzler). These implants provide unique access to directly record neuronal activity while patients are engaged in performing controlled tasks such as walking. In addition, we will make use of the Powerbike, a bicycle simulator developed by the group of Prof. Dietmar Saupe at Konstanz University. The Powerbike is equipped to measure performance parameters. Therewith, it allows investigating the physical aspects driving potential differences in neural activity. In Konstanz, also the third project partner is located, Dr. Sarang Dalal (Research Fellow of the Zukunftskolleg) and his group. Dr. Dalal is a trained engineer and neuroscientist at the same time, perfectly bridging the gap between disciplines in this project.

The approach used will enable us examining the physiological differences between cycling and undirected walking in a laboratory environment. Moreover, results will help to clarify both the mechanism through which cycling ability may be preserved in freezing of gait as well as the mechanism through which cycling may have therapeutic benefits.

Experimental Setup

  • Real Dutch-style bicycle frame mounted on ergometer
  • Custom Arduino-based electronics and optical sensors to track continuous pedal position and report on handlebar-mounted display
  • Bioamplifier records pedal position and knee angle together with EEG, EMG, and basal ganglia LFP
  • Pedal resistance controllable in real-time by custom software

Financial Support:


Gratkowski, M., Storzer, L., Butz, M., Schnitzler, A., Saupe, D., Dalal, S., BrainCycles: Experimental Setup for the Combined Measurement of Cortical and Subcortical Activity in Parkinsons Disease Patients during Cycling, Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, Vol. 10, January 2017.
Storzer, L., Butz, M., Hirschmann, J., Abbasi, O., Gratkowski, M., Saupe, D., Schnitzler, A., Dalal, S., Bicycling and walking are associated with different cortical oscillatory dynamics, Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, Vol. 10, No. 61, February 2016.