Altered functional connectivity in the default mode network is associated with cognitive impairment and brain anatomical changes in Parkinson's disease

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Abstract

Objective To assess whether functional neural connectivity is disrupted between the regions of the default mode network (DMN) in Parkinson's disease (PD) and how this connectivity is related to cognition, brain gray matter structure and white matter integrity and diffusivity. Methods Thirty-seven PD patients and 16 healthy controls were evaluated, using resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), T1-weighted MRI, diffusion-weighted imaging and a battery of cognitive tests. Functional connectivity between the regions of the DMN, specifically in the precuneus, anterior and posterior cingulate, medial prefrontal and temporal and inferior parietal cortices was assessed with seed-to-voxel connectivity; gray matter volume and white matter values were determined using voxel-based morphometry and tract-based spatial statistics. Results Reduced functional connectivity was observed between the posterior cingulate and medial temporal lobe in PD. Lower cognitive performance, gray matter loss in posterior, medial temporal and parietal areas, and fractional anisotropy reduction in the white matter adjacent to DMN regions were also observed in PD patients compared with healthy controls. Lower DMN functional connectivity correlated with lower verbal and visual memory and visual abilities performance in PD. In addition, lower DMN functional connectivity correlated with lower gray matter volume in the posterior cingulate and precuneus, and with lower white matter fractional anisotropy of the inferior longitudinal and posterior cingulate fasciculi in PD. Conclusions By combining different neuroimaging techniques and cognitive data, results showed that functional connectivity alteration between the regions of the DMN is associated with lower cognitive performance and gray and white matter abnormalities in PD.

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Lucas-Jiménez, O., Ojeda, N., Peña, J., Díez-Cirarda, M., Cabrera-Zubizarreta, A., Gómez-Esteban, J. C., … Ibarretxe-Bilbao, N. (2016). Altered functional connectivity in the default mode network is associated with cognitive impairment and brain anatomical changes in Parkinson’s disease. Parkinsonism and Related Disorders, 33, 58–64. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.parkreldis.2016.09.012

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