Functional neuroimaging has been widely used to study the activation patterns of the motor network in patients with Parkinson's disease (PD), but these studies have yielded conflicting results. This meta-analysis of previous neuroimaging studies was performed to identify patterns of abnormal movement-related activation in PD that were consistent across studies. We applied activation likelihood estimation (ALE) of functional neuroimaging studies probing motor function in patients with PD. The meta-analysis encompassed data from 283 patients with PD reported in 24 functional neuroimaging studies and yielded consistent alterations in neural activity in patients with PD. Differences in cortical activation between PD patients and healthy controls converged in a left-lateralized fronto-parietal network comprising the presupplementary motor area, primary motor cortex, inferior parietal cortex, and superior parietal lobule. Both, increases as well as decreases in motor cortical activity, which were related to differences in movement timing and selection in the applied motor tasks, were reported in these cortical areas. In the basal ganglia, PD patients expressed a decrease of motor activation in the posterior motor putamen, which improved with dopaminergic medication. The likelihood of detecting a decrease in putaminal activity increased with motor impairment. This reduced motor activation of the posterior putamen across previous neuroimaging studies indicates that nigrostriatal dopaminergic denervation affects neural processing in the denervated striatal motor territory. In contrast, fronto-parietal motor areas display both increases as well as decreases in movement related activation. This points to a more complex relationship between altered cortical physiology and nigrostriatal dopaminergic denervation in PD.
Keywords: Parkinson's disease; functional magnetic resonance imaging; meta analysis; motor; positron emission tomography.
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