The basal ganglia (BG) are impaired in Parkinson's disease (PD), but it remains unclear which nuclei are impaired during the performance of motor tasks in early-stage PD. Therefore, this study was conducted to determine which nuclei function abnormally, and whether cortical structures are also affected by early-stage PD. The study also determined if cerebellar hyperactivity is found early in the course of PD. Blood oxygenation level dependent activation was compared between 14 early-stage drug-naïve PD patients and 14 controls performing two precision grip force tasks using functional magnetic resonance imaging at 3 T. The grip tasks used in this study were chosen because both tasks are known to provide robust activation in BG nuclei, and the two tasks were similar except that the 2-s task required more switching between contraction and relaxation than the 4-s task. The 4-s task revealed that PD patients were hypoactive relative to controls only in putamen and external globus pallidus, and thalamus. In the 2-s task, PD patients were hypoactive throughout all BG nuclei, thalamus, M1, and supplementary motor area. There were no differences in cerebellar activation between groups during either task. Regions of interest analysis revealed that the hypoactivity observed in PD patients during the 2-s task became more pronounced over time as patients performed the task. This suggests that a motor task that requires switching can accentuate abnormal activity throughout all BG nuclei of early-stage, drug-naive PD, and that the abnormal activity becomes more pronounced with repeated task performance in these patients. Hum Brain Mapp, 2010.
- Parkinson's disease