Deep brain stimulation (DBS) of the ventral intermediate nucleus (VIM) of the thalamus improves essential tremor. Suppression of the amplitude of the postural tremor component with VIM DBS depends on stimulation frequency. The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of DBS frequency on the intention tremor component, that is, tremor that is enhanced by target-directed movement, and to compare it to the effect of DBS frequency on postural tremor in people with essential tremor. We measured tremor frequency and amplitude during trials of postural holding and voluntary reaching between two targets at 10 different stimulation frequency settings between 0 and 185 Hz. Tremor frequency did not change with changes in stimulation frequency. Amplitude suppression of both intention and postural tremor depended on stimulation frequency. Maximal tremor reduction occurred at approximately 130 Hz for both forms of tremor. However, at optimal frequencies, the percent reduction in tremor amplitude relative to the DBS OFF condition was greater for postural than for intention tremor. These results suggest that VIM DBS stimulation frequencies near 130 Hz may provide maximal control of intention and postural tremor. Identification of optimal stimulation settings should consider assessment of intention tremor, not just postural tremor, as intention tremor may not be as well controlled as postural tremor but may be a better gauge for functional benefit.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)257-263
Number of pages7
JournalExperimental Neurology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 2007


  • Deep brain stimulation
  • Essential tremor
  • Kinematics


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