Motor cognition in patients treated with subthalamic nucleus deep brain stimulation: Limits of compensatory overactivity in Parkinson's disease

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Abstract

Recent fMRI findings revealed that impairment in a serial prediction task in patients suffering from Parkinson's disease (PD) results from hypoactivity of the SMA. Furthermore, hyperactivity of the lateral premotor cortex sustained performance after withdrawal of medication. To further explore these findings, we here examined the impact of deep brain stimulation of the subthalamic nucleus on the activity of the putamen and premotor areas while performing the serial prediction task. To this end, we measured eight male PD patients ON and OFF deep brain stimulation and eight healthy age-matched male controls using [15O] water positron emission tomography to measure regional cerebral blood flow. As expected, PD patients showed poorer performance than healthy controls while performance did not differ between OFF and ON stimulation. Hypoactivity of the putamen and hyperactivity of the left lateral premotor cortex was found in patients compared to controls. Lateral premotor hyperactivity further increased OFF compared to ON stimulation and was positively related to task performance. These results confirm that the motor loop's dysfunction has impact on cognitive processes (here: prediction of serial stimuli) in PD. Extending prior data regarding the role of the lateral premotor cortex in cognitive compensation, our results indicate that lateral premotor cortex hyperactivity, while beneficial in moderate levels of impairment, might fail to preserve performance in more severe stages of the motor loop's degeneration.

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