Neuroimaging in Parkinson's disease dementia: connecting the dots

Brain Commun. 2019;1(1):fcz006. doi: 10.1093/braincomms/fcz006. Epub 2019 Jul 8.


Dementia is a common and devastating symptom of Parkinson's disease but the anatomical substrate remains unclear. Some evidence points towards hippocampal involvement but neuroimaging abnormalities have been reported throughout the brain and are largely inconsistent across studies. Here, we test whether these disparate neuroimaging findings for Parkinson's disease dementia localize to a common brain network. We used a literature search to identify studies reporting neuroimaging correlates of Parkinson's dementia (11 studies, 385 patients). We restricted our search to studies of brain atrophy and hypometabolism that compared Parkinson's patients with dementia to those without cognitive involvement. We used a standard coordinate-based activation likelihood estimation meta-analysis to assess for consistency in the neuroimaging findings. We then used a new approach, coordinate-based network mapping, to test whether neuroimaging findings localized to a common brain network. This approach uses resting-state functional connectivity from a large cohort of normative subjects (n = 1000) to identify the network of regions connected to a reported neuroimaging coordinate. Activation likelihood estimation meta-analysis failed to identify any brain regions consistently associated with Parkinson's dementia, showing major heterogeneity across studies. In contrast, coordinate-based network mapping found that these heterogeneous neuroimaging findings localized to a specific brain network centred on the hippocampus. Next, we tested whether this network showed symptom specificity and stage specificity by performing two further analyses. We tested symptom specificity by examining studies of Parkinson's hallucinations (9 studies, 402 patients) that are frequently co-morbid with Parkinson's dementia. We tested for stage specificity by using studies of mild cognitive impairment in Parkinson's disease (15 studies, 844 patients). Coordinate-based network mapping revealed that correlates of visual hallucinations fell within a network centred on bilateral lateral geniculate nucleus and correlates of mild cognitive impairment in Parkinson's disease fell within a network centred on posterior default mode network. In both cases, the identified networks were distinct from the hippocampal network of Parkinson's dementia. Our results link heterogeneous neuroimaging findings in Parkinson's dementia to a common network centred on the hippocampus. This finding was symptom and stage-specific, with implications for understanding Parkinson's dementia and heterogeneity of neuroimaging findings in general.

Keywords: Parkinson’s disease; dementia; imaging; mild cognitive impairment; visual hallucinations.