Purpose of review: Whilst gait impairment is a main cause for disability in Parkinson's disease (PD), its neural control remains poorly understood. We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of neuroimaging studies of surrogate features of gait in PD.
Findings: Assessing the results from PET or SPECT scans after a period of actual walking as well as fMRI during mental imagery or virtual reality (VR) gait paradigms, we found a varying pattern of gait-related brain activity. Overall, a decrease in activation of the SMA during gait was found in PD compared to elderly controls. In addition, the meta-analysis showed that the most consistent gait-related activation was situated in the cerebellar locomotor region (CLR) in PD. Despite methodological heterogeneity, the combined neuroimaging studies of gait provide new insights into its neural control in PD, suggesting that CLR activation likely serves a compensatory role in locomotion.
Keywords: Activation of likelihood estimation; Cerebellum; Gait; Meta-analysis; Neuroimaging; Parkinson’s disease.