New approaches to understanding hallucinations in Parkinson's disease: Phenomenology and possible origins

  • Onofrj M
  • Thomas A
  • Bonanni L
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The authors review current literature on hallucinations in Parkinson's disease (PD). Recent neuropathological studies showed that hallucinations occur in synucleinopathies and are a significant predictor of Lewy Body depositions. Therefore, hallucinations are a hallmark of PD and of dementia with Lewy Bodies. Visual hallucinations are mostly complex and kinematic; preserved or disturbed insight on the nature of hallucinations is a major prognostic factor, although eventually all hallucinators will present with reduced insight. Current theories on the origin of hallucinations point to visual dysfunction, dream overflow and cognitive impairment, yet objection can be raised on each one of the putative models of hallucinations. Understanding of the origin of hallucinations is required in order to develop treatments: all treatment evaluations were focused in general on psychosis, and only clozapine obtained positive evidence-based ratings on efficacy. However, it is likely that cholinesterase inhibitors, antipsychotics and anti-5-hydroxytryptamine(3) agents and drugs acting on sleep regulation will have different and perhaps opposite effects on different types of hallucinations, whether they are accompanied by disturbed insight, sleep disorders or other psychotic features. Further studies will try to separate phenomenology and responses to treatment and will investigate the relevance of concomitant sleep disorders and abnormality of frontoparietal networks involved in the attention process.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Antipsychotic drugs
  • Charles Bonnet syndrome
  • Dementia with Lewy bodies
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Peduncular hallucinosis
  • Psychosis
  • REM sleep behavior disorder
  • Visual hallucinations

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