The functional anatomy of parkinsonian bradykinesia

Neuroimage. 2003 May;19(1):163-79. doi: 10.1016/s1053-8119(03)00059-4.


To investigate the difficulty that patients with Parkinson's disease (PD) have in performing fast movements, we used H(2)(15)O PET to study regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) associated with performance of a simple predictive visuomanual tracking task at three different velocities. Tracking movements in PD patients (versus tracking with the eyes alone) were associated with a general underactivation of the areas normally activated by the task (sensorimotor cortex contralateral to the moving arm, bilateral dorsal premotor cortices, and ipsilateral cerebellum). Presupplementary motor cortex (pre-SMA) ipsilateral to the moving arm had greater than normal movement-related activations. Increasing movement velocity led to increased rCBF in multiple premotor and parietal cortical areas and basal ganglia in the patients as opposed to the few cerebral locations that are normally velocity-related. The functional correlates of PD bradykinesia are: (1) impaired recruitment of cortical and subcortical systems that normally regulate kinematic parameters of movement such as velocity; and (2) increased recruitment of multiple premotor areas including both regions specialized for visuomotor control (ventral premotor and parietal cortices) and some that are not (pre-SMA). The overactivation of cortical regions observed in patients may be functional correlates of compensatory mechanisms and/or impaired suppression as a facet of the primary pathophysiology of PD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypokinesia / diagnostic imaging*
  • Hypokinesia / etiology
  • Hypokinesia / physiopathology*
  • Least-Squares Analysis
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Parkinson Disease / complications*
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Rest
  • Time Factors
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed*