There is evidence that the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) may play a certain role in decision making related to reward value and time perception and, in particular, in the inhibitory control of impulsive decision making. Using the theta burst stimulation (TBS) and a delay discounting (DD) task, we investigated the potential role of right DLPFC in impulsive decision making defined by the rate of discounting delayed reward. Healthy right-handed volunteers underwent three stimulation sessions, intermittent TBS (iTBS), continuous TBS (cTBS), and sham. The steepness of the discount function (k-value), reaction time for choice and consistency were measured for each subjects. cTBS of the DLPFC reduced by 36.88 % the k-value of the DD task compared to sham condition. In contrast, iTBS did not affect impulsivity level. There were no changes neither in reaction time for choice nor consistency after either the iTBS or cTBS compared with the sham stimulation. These results demonstrate that cTBS-induced modulation of cortical excitability of the right DLPFC may affect and reduce impulsive decision making. These observations may provide some insights into the role of the right DLPFC in modulating impulsivity level and calculating reward value at different time scales under less ambiguous circumstances.
PMID: 20633446 CAMSID: cams3169
rTMS; theta burst stimulation; dorsolateral prefrontal cortex; decision making; impulsivity; delay discounting task
Advantageous economic decision making requires flexible adaptation of gain-based and loss-based preference hierarchies. However, where the neuronal blueprints for economic preference hierarchies are kept and how they may be adapted remains largely unclear. Phasic cortical dopamine release likely mediates flexible adaptation of neuronal representations. In this PET study, cortical-binding potential (BP) for the D2-dopamine receptor ligand [11C]FLB 457 was examined in healthy participants during multiple sessions of a probabilistic four-choice financial decision-making task with two behavioral variants. In the changing-gains/constant-losses variant, the implicit gain-based preference hierarchy was unceasingly changing, whereas the implicit loss-based preference hierarchy was constant. In the constant-gains/changing-losses variant, it was the other way around. These variants served as paradigms, respectively, contrasting flexible adaptation versus maintenance of loss-based and gain-based preference hierarchies. We observed that in comparison with the constant-gains/changing-losses variant, the changing-gains/constant-losses variant was associated with a decreased D2-dopamine receptor-BP in the right lateral frontopolar cortex. In other words, lateral frontopolar D2-dopamine receptor stimulation was specifically increased during continuous adaptation of mental representations of gain-based preference hierarchies. This finding provides direct evidence for the existence of a neuronal blueprint of gain-based decision-making in the lateral frontopolar cortex and a crucial role of local dopamine in the flexible adaptation of mental concepts of future behavior.
PMID: 22020993 CAMSID: cams2371
dopamine; feedback-learning; frontopolar; FLB; imaging; gambling
Dopamine plays an important role in several brain functions and is involved in the pathogenesis of several psychiatric and neurological disorders. Neuroimaging techniques such as positron emission tomography allow us to quantify dopaminergic activity in the living human brain. Combining these with brain stimulation techniques offers us the unique opportunity to tackle questions regarding region-specific neurochemical activity. Such studies may aid clinicians and scientists to disentangle neural circuitries within the human brain and thereby help them to understand the underlying mechanisms of a given function in relation to brain diseases. Furthermore, it may also aid the development of alternative treatment approaches for various neurological and psychiatric conditions.
PMID: 21536838 CAMSID: cams2366
brain imaging; dopamine; positron emission tomography; prefrontal cortex; transcranial magnetic stimulation
The main pattern of cognitive impairments seen in early to moderate stages of Parkinson’s disease (PD) includes deficits of executive functions. These nonmotor complications have a significant impact on the quality of life and day-to-day activities of PD patients and are not effectively managed by current therapies, a problem which is almost certainly due to the fact that the disease extends beyond the nigrostriatal system. To investigate the role of extrastriatal dopamine in executive function in PD, PD patients and a control group were studied with positron-emission-tomography using a high-affinity dopamine D2/D3 receptor tracer, [11C]FLB-457. All participants were scanned twice while performing an executive task and a control task. Patients were off medication for at least 12 h. The imaging analysis revealed that parkinsonian patients had lower [11C]FLB-457 binding than control group independently of task conditions across different brain regions. Cognitive assessment measures were positively correlated with [11C]FLB-457 binding in the bilateral dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and anterior cingulate cortex only in control group, but not in PD patients. Within the control group, during the executive task (as compared to control task), there was evidence of reduced [11C]FLB-457 binding (indicative of increased dopamine release) in the right orbitofrontal cortex. In contrast, PD patients did not show any reduction in binding during the executive task (as compared with control task). These findings suggest that PD patients present significant abnormalities in extrastriatal dopamine associated with executive processing. These observations provide important insights on the pathophysiology of cognitive dysfunction in PD.
PMID: 22331665 CAMSID: cams2380
FLB-457; positron emission tomography; set-shifting; cognition; mesocortical dopamine
Patients with idiopathic Parkinson’s disease exhibit impairments in executive processes, including planning and set-shifting, even at the early stages of the disease. We have recently developed a new card-sorting task to study the specific role of the caudate nucleus in such executive processes and have shown, using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in young healthy adults, that the caudate nucleus is specifically required when a set-shift must be planned. Here the same fMRI protocol was used to compare the patterns of activation in a group of early-stage Parkinson’s disease patients (seven right-handed patients at Hoehn and Yahr stages 1 and 2; mean age 62 years, range 56–70) and matched control subjects. Increased cortical activation was observed in the patients compared with the control group in the condition not specifically requiring the caudate nucleus. On the other hand, decreased cortical activation was observed in the patient group in the condition significantly involving the caudate nucleus. This event-related fMRI study showed a pattern of cortical activation in Parkinson’s disease characterized by either reduced or increased activation depending on whether the caudate nucleus was involved or not in the task. This activation pattern included not only the prefrontal regions but also posterior cortical areas in the parietal and prestriate cortex. These findings are not in agreement with the traditional model, which proposes that the nigrostriatal dopamine depletion results in decreased cortical activity. These observations provide further evidence in favour of the hypothesis that not only the nigrostriatal and but also the mesocortical dopaminergic substrate may play a significant role in the cognitive deficits observed in Parkinson’s disease.
PMID: 17121746 CAMSID: cams3203
executive functions; fMRI; Parkinson’s disease; set-shifting; striatum
Decision making is a cognitive function relaying on a complex neural network. In particular, the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) plays a key role within this network. We used positron emission tomography (PET) combined with continuous theta burst transcranial magnetic stimulation (cTBS) to investigate neuronal and behavioral changes in normal volunteers while performing a delay discounting (DD) task. We aimed to test whether stimulation of right DLPFC would modify the activation pattern of the neural circuit underlying decision making during the DD task and influence discounting behavior.
We found that cTBS of the right DLPFC influenced decision making by reducing impulsivity and inducing participants to favor large but delayed rewards instead of immediate but small rewards. Stimulation also affected activation in several prefrontal areas associated with DD. In particular, we observed a reduced regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) in the ipsilateral DLPFC (BA 46) extending into the rostral part of the prefrontal cortex (BA 10) as well as a disrupted relationship between impulsivity (k-value) and rCBF in these and other prefrontal areas.
These findings suggest that transcranial magnetic stimulation of the DLPFC influences the neural network underlying impulsive decision making behavior.
PMID: 22494829 CAMSID: cams3170
rTMS; Theta burst stimulation; Dorsolateral prefrontal cortex; Decision making; Impulsivity; Delay discounting task
Impulse control disorders are a psychiatric condition characterized by the failure to resist an impulsive act or behavior that may be harmful to self or others. In movement disorders, impulse control disorders are associated with dopaminergic treatment, notably dopamine agonists (DAs). Impulse control disorders have been studied extensively in Parkinson’s disease, but are also recognized in restless leg syndrome and atypical Parkinsonian syndromes. Epidemiological studies suggest younger age, male sex, greater novelty seeking, impulsivity, depression and premorbid impulse control disorders as the most consistent risk factors. Such patients may warrant special monitoring after starting treatment with a DA. Various individual screening tools are available for people without Parkinson’s disease. The Questionnaire for Impulsive-Compulsive Disorders in Parkinson’s Disease has been developed specifically for Parkinson’s disease. The best treatment for impulse control disorders is prevention. However, after the development of impulse control disorders, the mainstay intervention is to reduce or discontinue the offending anti-Parkinsonian medication. In refractory cases, other pharmacological interventions are available, including neuroleptics, antiepileptics, amantadine, antiandrogens, lithium and opioid antagonists. Unfortunately, their use is only supported by case reports, small case series or open-label clinical studies. Prospective, controlled studies are warranted. Ongoing investigations include naltrexone and nicotine.
Impulse control disorders; Parkinson’s disease; restless leg syndrome; parkinsonism; dopamine agonist; non-motor complication; neurobehavioural
Taking risks is a natural human response, but, in some, risk taking is compulsive and may be detrimental. The subthalamic nucleus (STN) is thought to play a large role in our ability to inhibit responses. Differences between individuals' ability to inhibit inappropriate responses may underlie both the normal variation in trait impulsivity in the healthy population, as well as the pathological compulsions experienced by those with impulse control disorders (ICDs). Thus, we review the role of the STN in response inhibition, with a particular focus on studies employing imaging methodology. We also review the latest evidence that disruption of the function of the STN by deep brain stimulation in patients with Parkinson's disease can increase impulsivity.
Impulse control disorders such as pathological gambling (PG) are a serious and common adverse effect of dopamine (DA) replacement medication in Parkinson’s disease (PD). Patients with PG have increased impulsivity and abnormalities in striatal DA, in common with behavioural and substance addictions in the non-PD population. To date, no studies have investigated the role of extrastriatal dopaminergic abnormalities in PD patients with PG. We used the PET radiotracer, [11C] FLB-457, with high-affinity for extrastriatal DA D2/3 receptors. 14 PD patients on DA agonists were imaged while they performed a gambling task involving real monetary reward and a control task. Trait impulsivity was measured with the Barratt Impulsivity Scale (BIS). Seven of the patients had a history of PG that developed subsequent to DA agonist medication. Change in [11C] FLB-457 binding potential (BP) during gambling was reduced in PD with PG patients in the midbrain, where D2/D3 receptors are dominated by autoreceptors. The degree of change in [11C] FLB-457 binding in this region correlated with impulsivity. In the cortex, [11C] FLB-457 BP was significantly greater in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) in PD patients with PG during the control task, and binding in this region was also correlated with impulsivity. Our findings provide the first evidence that PD patients with PG have dysfunctional activation of DA autoreceptors in the midbrain and low DA tone in the ACC. Thus, altered striatal and cortical DA homeostasis may incur vulnerability for the development of PG in PD, linked with the impulsive personality trait.
PMID: 22766031 CAMSID: cams2373
Parkinson’s disease; Dopamine agonists; Pathological gambling; Impulsivity
In the last few years it has become clear that impulsivity is a complex behaviour composed of different domains and dependent on different neural networks. The proposed pathogenetic mechanisms for the emergence of impulsivity disorders in Parkinson’s Disease (PD) can be broadly separated into three potentially interacting processes: the contribution of premorbid susceptibility to impulsivity, the contribution of the disease itself to the behaviour and the potential contribution of therapeutic agents. Growing evidence suggests that dopamine and the subthalamic nucleus are playing a certain role in the pathophysiology of different aspects of impulsivity. In this review, we summarise the main concepts defining various components of impulsivity both in healthy subjects and patients affected by PD.
PMID: 21683964 CAMSID: cams2370
Parkinson’s disease; Brain imaging; Dopamine; Subthalamic nucleus; Impulsivity; Impulse control disorders
Radioligand positron emission tomography (PET) with dual scan paradigms can provide valuable insight into changes in synaptic neurotransmitter concentration due to experimental manipulation. The residual t-test has been utilized to improve the sensitivity of the t-test in PET studies. However, no further development of statistical tests using residuals has been proposed so far to be applied in cases when there are more than two conditions. Here, we propose the residual f-test, a one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA), and examine its feasibility using simulated [11C]raclopride PET data. We also re-visit data from our previously published [11C]raclopride PET study, in which 10 individuals underwent three PET scans under different conditions. We found that the residual f-test is superior in terms of sensitivity than the conventional f-test while still controlling for type 1 error. The test will therefore allow us to reliably test hypotheses in the smaller sample sizes often used in explorative PET studies.
In our constantly changing environment, we are frequently faced with altered circumstances requiring generation and monitoring of appropriate strategies, when novel plans of action must be formulated and conducted. The abilities that we call upon to respond accurately to novel situations are referred to as ‘executive functions', and are frequently engaged to deal with conditions in which routine activation of behavior would not be sufficient for optimal performance. Here, we summarize important findings that may help us understand executive functions and their underlying neuronal correlates. We focus particularly on observations from imaging technology, such as functional magnetic resonance imaging, position emission tomography, diffusion tensor imaging, and transcranial magnetic stimulation, which in the past few years have provided the bulk of information on the neurobiological underpinnings of the executive functions. Further, emphasis will be placed on recent insights from Parkinson's disease (PD), in which the underlying dopaminergic abnormalities have provided new exciting information into basic molecular mechanisms of executive dysfunction, and which may help to disentangle the cortical/subcortical networks involved in executive processes.
executive functions; Parkinson's disease; PET; fMRI; neuroimaging; dopamine
The neurobehavioral underpinnings of pathological gambling are not well understood. Insight might be gained by understanding pharmacological effects on the reward system in patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD). Treatment with dopamine agonists (DAs) has been associated with pathological gambling in PD patients. However, how DAs are involved in the development of this form of addiction is unknown. We tested the hypothesis that tonic stimulation of dopamine receptors specifically desensitizes the dopaminergic reward system by preventing decreases in dopaminergic transmission that occurs with negative feedback. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, we studied PD patients during three sessions of a probabilistic reward task in random order: off medication, after levodopa (LD) treatment, and after an equivalent dose of DA (pramipexole). For each trial, a reward prediction error value was computed using outcome, stake, and probability. Pramipexole specifically changed activity of the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) in two ways that were both associated with increased risk taking in an out-of-magnet task. Outcome-induced activations were generally higher with pramipexole compared with LD or off medication. In addition, only pramipexole greatly diminished trial-by-trial correlation with reward prediction error values. Further analysis yielded that this resulted mainly from impaired deactivation in trials with negative errors in reward prediction. We propose that DAs prevent pauses in dopamine transmission and thereby impair the negative reinforcing effect of losing. Our findings raise the question of whether pathological gambling may in part stem from an impaired capacity of the OFC to guide behavior when facing negative consequences.
PMID: 19741594 CAMSID: cams1534
fMRI; impulse control disorder; dopamine agonist; reward; addiction; reinforcement
To examine the integrity of the default mode network in patients with Parkinson disease (PD). Previous functional neuroimaging experiments have studied executive deficits in patients with PD with regard to task-related brain activation. However, recent studies suggest that executive performance also relies on the integrity of the default mode network (ie, medial prefrontal cortex, posterior cingulate cortex, precuneus, and lateral parietal and medial temporal cortices), characterized by a deactivation of these cortical areas during the performance of executive tasks.
We used functional magnetic resonance imaging to investigate cortical deactivations during a card-sorting task (retrieval and manipulation of short-term memory contents) compared with a simple sensory-motor matching task. In addition, a functional connectivity analysis was performed.
Tertiary outpatient clinic.
Seven patients with mild to moderate PD (not taking medication) and 7 healthy controls.
Main Outcome Measure
Both groups showed comparable deactivation of the medial prefrontal cortex but different deactivation in the posterior cingulate cortex and the precuneus. Compared with controls, patients with PD not only showed less deactivation of the posterior cingulate cortex and the precuneus, they even demonstrated a reversed pattern of activation and deactivation. Connectivity analysis yielded that in contrast to healthy individuals, medial prefrontal cortex and the rostral ventromedial caudate nucleus were functionally disconnected in PD.
We describe specific malfunctioning of the default mode network during an executive task in PD. This finding is plausibly linked to dopamine depletion and may critically contribute to the understanding of executive deficits in PD.
PMID: 19597090 CAMSID: cams1533
In Parkinson disease (PD) patients, deep brain stimulation (DBS) of the subthalamic nucleus (STN) may contribute to certain impulsive behavior during high-conflict decisions. A neurocomputational model of the basal ganglia has recently been proposed that suggests this behavioral aspect may be related to the role played by the STN in relaying a “hold your horses” signal intended to allow more time to settle on the best option. The aim of the present study was 2-fold: 1) to extend these observations by providing evidence that the STN may influence and prevent the execution of any response even during low-conflict decisions; and 2) to identify the neural correlates of this effect.
We measured regional cerebral blood flow during a Go/NoGo and a control (Go) task to study the motor improvement and response inhibition deficits associated with STN-DBS in patients with PD.
Although it improved Unified Parkinson Disease Rating Scale motor ratings and induced a global decrease in reaction time during task performance, STN-DBS impaired response inhibition, as revealed by an increase in commission errors in NoGo trials. These behavioral effects were accompanied by changes in synaptic activity consisting of a reduced activation in the cortical networks responsible for reactive and proactive response inhibition.
The present results suggest that although it improves motor functions in PD patients, modulation of STN hyperactivity with DBS may tend at the same time to favor the appearance of impulsive behavior by acting on the gating mechanism involved in response initiation.
PMID: 20035509 CAMSID: cams1535
There is clear evidence that the prefrontal cortex is strongly involved in executive processes and that dopamine can influence performance on working memory tasks. Although, some studies have emphasized the role of striatal dopamine in executive functions, the role played by prefrontal dopamine during executive tasks is unknown. In order to investigate cortical dopamine transmission during executive function, we used D2-dopamine receptor ligand [11C]FLB 457 PET in healthy subjects while performing the Montreal Card Sorting Task (MCST). During the retrieval with shift task of the MCST, the subjects had to match each test card to one of the reference cards based on a classification rule (color, shape or number) determined by comparing the previously viewed cue card and the current test card. A reduction in [11C]FLB 457 binding potential in the right dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) was observed when subjects performed the active task compared to the control task. These findings may suggest that right dorsal ACC dopamine neurotransmission increases significantly during the performance of certain executive processes, e.g., conflict monitoring, in keeping with previous evidence from fMRI studies showing ACC activation during similar tasks. These results may provide some insights on the origin of cognitive deficits underlying certain neurological disorders associated with dopamine dysfunction, such as Parkinson’s disease and schizophrenia.
PMID: 19264140 CAMSID: cams1532
FLB 457; Positron emission tomography; Executive function; Anterior cingulate cortex; Dopamine; Conflict monitoring
The prefrontostriatal network is considered to play a key role in executive functions. Previous neuroimaging studies have shown that executive processes tested with card-sorting tasks requiring planning and set-shifting [e.g. Montreal-card-sorting-task (MCST)] may engage the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) while inducing dopamine release in the striatum. However, functional imaging studies can only provide neuronal correlates of cognitive performance and cannot establish a causal relation between observed brain activity and task performance. In order to investigate the contribution of the DLPFC during set-shifting and its effect on the striatal dopaminergic system, we applied continuous theta burst stimulation (cTBS) to left and right DLPFC. Our aim was to transiently disrupt its function and to measure MCST performance and striatal dopamine release during [11C]raclopride PET. A significant hemispheric asymmetry was observed. cTBS of the left DLPFC impaired MCST performance and dopamine release in the ipsilateral caudate–anterior putamen and contralateral caudate nucleus, as compared to cTBS of the vertex (control). These effects appeared to be limited only to left DLPFC stimulation while right DLPFC stimulation did not influence task performance or [11C]raclopride binding potential in the striatum. This is the first study showing that cTBS, by disrupting left prefrontal function, may indirectly affect striatal dopamine neurotransmission during performance of executive tasks. This cTBS-induced regional prefrontal effect and modulation of the frontostriatal network may be important for understanding the contribution of hemisphere laterality and its neural bases with regard to executive functions, as well as for revealing the neurochemical substrate underlying cognitive deficits.
PMID: 19046396 CAMSID: cams1540
basal ganglia; executive function; positron emission tomography; transcranial magnetic stimulation
Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) is a valuable probe of brain function. Ever since its adoption as a research tool, there has been great interest regarding its potential clinical role. Presently, it is unclear whether rTMS will have some role as an alternative treatment for neuropsychiatric and neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease (PD). To date, studies addressing the contribution of placebo during rTMS are missing. The placebo effect has been shown to be associated either with release of dopamine in the striatum or with changes in brain glucose metabolism. The main objective of this study was to test whether, in patients with PD, the expectation of therapeutic benefit from rTMS, which actually was delivered only as sham rTMS (placebo-rTMS) induced changes in striatal [11C] raclopride binding potentials (BP) as measured with positron emission tomography (PET). Placebo-rTMS induced a significant bilateral reduction in [11C] raclopride BP in dorsal and ventral striatum as compared to the baseline condition. This reduction BP is indicative of an increase in dopamine neurotransmission. The changes in [11C] raclopride binding were more evident in the hemisphere contralateral to the more affected side supporting the hypothesis that the more severe the symptoms, the greater the drive for symptom relief, and therefore the placebo response. This is the first study addressing the placebo contribution during rTMS. While our results seem to confirm earlier evidence that expectation induces dopaminergic placebo effects, they also suggest the importance of placebo-controlled studies for future clinical trials involving brain stimulation techniques.
PMID: 16545582 CAMSID: cams1537
Positron emission tomography; Transcranial magnetic stimulation; Parkinson’s disease; Dopamine; Placebo; Expectation
Several animal studies have shown that striatal dopamine can be released under direct control of glutamatergic corticostriatal efferents. In Parkinson’s disease (PD), abnormalities in corticostriatal interactions are believed to play an important role in the pathophysiology of the disease. Previously, we have reported that, in healthy subjects, repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) of motor cortex (MC) induces focal dopamine release in the ipsilateral putamen. In the present study, using [11C]raclopride PET, we sought to investigate early PD patients with evidence of unilateral motor symptoms. We measured in the putamen changes in extracellular dopamine concentration following rTMS (intensity, 90% of the resting motor threshold; frequency, 10 Hz) of the left and right MC. The main objective was to identify potential differences in corticostriatal dopamine release between the hemisphere associated with clear contralateral motor symptoms (symptomatic hemisphere) and the presymptomatic stage of the other hemisphere (asymptomatic hemisphere). Repetitive TMS of MC caused a binding reduction in the ipsilateral putamen of both hemispheres. In the symptomatic hemisphere, while the amount of TMS-induced dopamine release was, as expected, smaller, the size of the significant cluster of change in [11C]raclopride binding was, instead, 61.4% greater than in the asymptomatic hemisphere. This finding of a spatially enlarged area of dopamine release, following cortical stimulation, may represent a possible in vivo expression of a loss of functional segregation of cortical information to the striatum and an indirect evidence of abnormal corticostriatal transmission in early PD. This has potential implications for models of basal ganglia function in PD.
PMID: 16324129 CAMSID: cams1536
Parkinson’s disease; positron emission tomography; raclopride; motor cortex stimulation; transcranial magnetic stimulation
To date, while the contribution of the striatum in executive processes is well documented, the role played by striatal dopamine during tasks requiring executive functions is still unknown. We used D2-dopamine receptor ligand [11C] raclopride PET in healthy subjects while performing the Montreal Card Sorting Task (MCST). We observed a striatal reduction in [11C] raclopride binding potential during planning of a set-shift when compared with matching according to an ongoing rule. These findings suggest that striatal dopamine neurotransmission increases significantly during the performance of specific executive processes confirming previous evidence of striatal activation during fMRI studies. The present observation may provide some insights on the origin of cognitive deficits underlying certain neurological disorders associated with dopamine dysfunction, such as Parkinson’s disease.
PMID: 16982202 CAMSID: cams1538
Positron emission tomography; Functional imaging; Raclopride; Dopamine; Basal ganglia; Executive functions; Cognition
Idiopathic Parkinson's disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disorder characterized by the dysfunction of dopaminergic dependent cortico-basal ganglia loops and diagnosed on the basis of motor symptoms (tremors and/or rigidity and bradykinesia). Post-mortem studies tend to show that the destruction of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra constitutes an intermediate step in a broader neurodegenerative process rather than a unique feature of Parkinson's disease, as a consistent pattern of progression would exist, originating from the medulla oblongata/pontine tegmentum. To date, neuroimaging techniques have been unable to characterize the pre-symptomatic stages of PD. However, if such a regular neurodegenerative pattern were to exist, consistent damages would be found in the brain stem, even at early stages of the disease. We recruited 23 PD patients at Hoenn and Yahr stages I to II of the disease and 18 healthy controls (HC) matched for age. T1-weighted anatomical scans were acquired (MPRAGE, 1 mm3 resolution) and analyzed using an optimized VBM protocol to detect white and grey matter volume reduction without spatial a priori. When the HC group was compared to the PD group, a single cluster exhibited statistical difference (p<0.05 corrected for false detection rate, 4287 mm3) in the brain stem, between the pons and the medulla oblongata. The present study provides in-vivo evidence that brain stem damage may be the first identifiable stage of PD neuropathology, and that the identification of this consistent damage along with other factors could help with earlier diagnosis in the future. This damage could also explain some non-motor symptoms in PD that often precede diagnosis, such as autonomic dysfunction and sleep disorders.
Brain dopamine is implicated in the regulation of movement, attention, reward and learning and plays an important role in Parkinson's disease, schizophrenia and drug addiction. Animal experiments have demonstrated that brain stimulation is able to induce significant dopaminergic changes in extrastriatal areas. Given the up-growing interest of non-invasive brain stimulation as potential tool for treatment of neurological and psychiatric disorders, it would be critical to investigate dopaminergic functional interactions in the prefrontal cortex and more in particular the effect of dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) (areas 9/46) stimulation on prefrontal dopamine (DA).
Healthy volunteers were studied with a high-affinity DA D2-receptor radioligand, [11C]FLB 457-PET following 10 Hz repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) of the left and right DLPFC. rTMS on the left DLPFC induced a significant reduction in [11C]FLB 457 binding potential (BP) in the ipsilateral subgenual anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) (BA 25/12), pregenual ACC (BA 32) and medial orbitofrontal cortex (BA 11). There were no significant changes in [11C]FLB 457 BP following right DLPFC rTMS.
To our knowledge, this is the first study to provide evidence of extrastriatal DA modulation following acute rTMS of DLPFC with its effect limited to the specific areas of medial prefrontal cortex. [11C]FLB 457-PET combined with rTMS may allow to explore the neurochemical functions of specific cortical neural networks and help to identify the neurobiological effects of TMS for the treatment of different neurological and psychiatric diseases.
The goal of this study was to evaluate the effects of L-Dopa medication in Parkinson's disease (PD) on brain activation during the performance of a set-shifting task. Using fMRI, we have previously studied the patterns of activity observed in patients with PD after overnight removal of dopaminergic medication compared with control participants during the performance of different stages of the Wisconsin Card Sorting Task (WCST). The results revealed decreased cortical activity in the PD group compared to controls in the conditions that significantly required striatum, while increased cortical activity was observed when striatum was not involved. However, the effect of dopaminergic medication in PD patients on those patterns of activity has not yet been studied.
Here, eleven PD patients at early stage of the disease taking L-Dopa medication were recruited and underwent two fMRI sessions while performing the WCST: one session while taking their normal dose of medication and the other following overnight dopaminergic medication withdrawal. We found that L-dopa medication helped restoring a normal pattern of activity when matching and not planning was required, by increasing cortical activity in the premotor cortex. This effect was even stronger in the motor loop, i.e. when the putamen was required for controls, when matching following negative feedback. However, the medication did not change the pattern of activity in conditions relying primarily on a cognitive loop, i.e. when the caudate nucleus was required.
These studies provide explanation at the neural level regarding the relatively poor effects of L-Dopa on the cognitive deficits observed in PD.
Early functional neuroimaging studies of tasks evaluating executive processes, such as the Wisconsin card sorting task (WCST), only assessed trials in blocks that may contain a large amount of different cognitive processes. More recently, we showed using event-related fMRI that the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DL-PFC) significantly increased activity during feedback but not matching periods of the WCST, consistent with its proposed role in the monitoring of information in working memory. Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) is a method that allows to disrupt processing within a given cortical region and to affect task performance for which this region is significantly solicited. Here we applied rTMS to test the hypothesis that the DL-PFC stimulation influences monitoring of working memory without interfering with other executive functions. We applied rTMS to the right DL-PFC and the vertex (control site) in different time points of the WCST. When rTMS was applied to the DL-PFC specifically during the period when subjects were receiving feedback regarding their previous response, WCST performance deteriorated, while rTMS did not affect performance during matching either when maintaining set or during set-shifting. This selective impairment of the DL-PFC is consistent with its proposed role in monitoring of events in working memory.