Patients with Parkinson disease (PD) may show impairments in the social perception. Whether these deficits have been consistently reported, it remains to be clarified which brain alterations subtend them. To this aim, we conducted a neuroimaging meta-analysis to compare the brain activity during social perception in patients with PD versus healthy controls. Our results show that PD patients exhibit a significantly decreased response in the basal ganglia (putamen and pallidum) and a trend toward decreased activity in the mirror system, particularly in the left parietal cortex (inferior parietal lobule and intraparietal sulcus). This reduced activation may be tied to a disruption of cognitive resonance mechanisms and may thus constitute the basis of impaired others' representations underlying action and emotion perception. We also found increased activation in the posterior cerebellum in PD, although only in a within-group analysis and not in comparison with healthy controls. This cerebellar activation may reflect compensatory mechanisms, an aspect that deserves further investigation. We discuss the clinical implications of our findings for the development of novel social skill training programs for PD patients.
Keywords: Activation likelihood estimation; Basal ganglia; Emotion; Meta-analysis; Parkinson’s disease; Social perception.
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