Clinical utility and research frontiers of neuroimaging in movement disorders

Q J Nucl Med Mol Imaging. 2017 Dec;61(4):372-385. doi: 10.23736/S1824-4785.17.03018-7. Epub 2017 Aug 28.


Neuroimaging in Parkinson's disease (PD) and other primary Parkinsonian disorders has been increasingly used in the routine clinical work in the last years. The paradigm has changed from an "exclusionary" use, i.e., to rule out causes of secondary Parkinsonism, to an "inclusionary" one, i.e., finding image and network characteristics allowing to identify a specific disease. This is allowed by analyses spanning from the commonly used visual analysis to the most sophisticated postprocessing leading to the identification of covariance patterns both in morphological and functional neuroimaging. However, paralleling the advancement in covariance and connectivity analyses, the issues of standardization and harmonization of data acquisition, and image reconstruction and postprocessing among centers are emerging in the scientific community. Also, the building of scientific evidence still suffers from the lack of large, formal studies and relies on relatively small cohort studies from one or few centers. Joint actions to face these issues are now ongoing in Europe, supported by specific programs, such as the Joint Programming on Neurodegenerative Diseases (JPND). In the present review, some of the most recent and relevant achievements in the field of diffusion tensor magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), functional MRI, fludeoxyglucose-positron-emission tomography, dopamine transporter single-photon emission computed tomography and non-dopaminergic imaging in PD and primary Parkinsonisms are reported.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Dopamine Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Multimodal Imaging / methods*
  • Neuroimaging / methods*
  • Parkinsonian Disorders / diagnostic imaging*
  • Parkinsonian Disorders / prevention & control
  • Positron-Emission Tomography / methods
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed, Single-Photon / methods


  • Dopamine Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins