Previous neuroimaging studies have found hyperactivation in the cerebellum and motor cortex and hypoactivation in the basal ganglia in patients with Parkinson's disease (PD) but the relationship between the two has not been established. This study examined whether cerebellar and motor cortex hyperactivation is a compensatory mechanism for hypoactivation in the basal ganglia or is a pathophysiological response that is related to the signs of the disease. Using a BOLD contrast fMRI paradigm PD patients and healthy controls performed automatic and cognitively controlled thumb pressing movements. Regions of interest analysis quantified the BOLD activation in motor areas, and correlations between the hyperactive and hypoactive regions were performed, along with correlations between the severity of upper limb rigidity and BOLD activation. There were three main findings. First, the putamen, supplementary motor area (SMA) and pre-SMA were hypoactive in PD patients. The left and right cerebellum and the contralateral motor cortex were hyperactive in PD patients. Second, PD patients had a significant negative correlation between the BOLD activation in the ipsilateral cerebellum and the contralateral putamen. The correlation between the putamen and motor cortex was not significant. Third, the BOLD activation in the motor cortex was positively correlated with the severity of upper limb rigidity, but the BOLD activation in the cerebellum was not correlated with rigidity. Further, the activation in the motor cortex was not correlated with upper extremity bradykinesia. These findings provide new evidence supporting the hypothesis that hyperactivation in the ipsilateral cerebellum is a compensatory mechanism for the defective basal ganglia. Our findings also provide the first evidence from neuroimaging that hyperactivation in the contralateral primary motor cortex is not a compensatory response but is directly related to upper limb rigidity.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cognitive Neuroscience