Background: Movement execution is impaired in patients with Parkinson's disease. Evolving neurodegeneration leads to altered connectivity between distinct regions of the brain and altered activity at interconnected areas. How connectivity alterations influence complex movements like drawing spirals in Parkinson's disease patients remains largely unexplored.
Objective: We investigated whether deteriorations in interregional connectivity relate to impaired execution of drawing.
Methods: Twenty-nine patients and 31 age-matched healthy control participants drew spirals with both hands on a digital graphics tablet, and the regularity of drawing execution was evaluated by sample entropy. We recorded resting-state fMRI and task-related EEG, and calculated the time-resolved partial directed coherence to estimate effective connectivity for both imaging modalities to determine the extent and directionality of interregional interactions.
Results: Movement performance in Parkinson's disease patients was characterized by increased sample entropy, corresponding to enhanced irregularities in task execution. Effective connectivity between the motor cortices of both hemispheres, derived from resting-state fMRI, was significantly reduced in Parkinson's disease patients in comparison to controls. The connectivity strength in the nondominant to dominant hemisphere direction in both modalities was inversely correlated with irregularities during drawing, but not with the clinical state.
Conclusion: Our findings suggest that interhemispheric connections are affected both at rest and during drawing movements by Parkinson's disease. This provides novel evidence that disruptions of interhemispheric information exchange play a pivotal role for impairments of complex movement execution in Parkinson's disease patients.
Keywords: Parkinson’s disease; fMRI; motor control; neural effective connectivity.