Functional neuroimaging and modern multivariate analysis techniques have greatly contributed to research into the pathophysiology, diagnosis, and new treatments of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease (PD). The pathogenesis of PD symptoms, especially akinesia and rigidity, is associated with abnormalities of cortico-striato-pallido-thalamocortical circuits. Although a resting tremor is one of the cardinal features of PD, the pathophysiology underlying this symptom is unclear and is thought to differ from those of akinesia and rigidity. The application of network analyses to metabolic positron emission tomography scans of patients with PD has provided valuable information concerning functional neural connectivity and identified the patterns of covariance that are specific to the motor manifestations and many nonmotor features of the disease, such as cognitive dysfunction. Functional imaging methods have revealed PD-specific brain activation patterns, including a parkinsonian tremor-related network. Network-based algorithms might aid in the clinical diagnosis of patients with PD from early symptoms and provide objective evidence of treatment responses.
Part of the book: Challenges in Parkinson's Disease