Neural basis for impaired time reproduction in Parkinson's disease: an fMRI study.J Int Neuropsychol Soc. 2003 Nov; 9(7):1088-98.JI
Studies involving brain-lesioned subjects have used the paced finger tapping (PFT) task to investigate the neural systems that govern motor timing. Patients with Parkinson's disease (PD), for example, demonstrate abnormal performance on the PFT, characterized by decreased accuracy and variability changes, suggesting that the basal ganglia may play a critical role in motor timing. Consistent with this hypothesis, an fMRI study of healthy participants demonstrated that the medial frontostriatal circuit (dorsal putamen, ventrolateral thalamus, SMA) correlated with explicit time-dependent components of the PFT task. In the current fMRI study, PD patients and healthy age-matched controls were imaged while performing the PFT. PD patients underwent 2 imaging sessions, 1 on and the other off dopamine supplementation. Relative to controls, PD patients were less accurate and showed greater variability on the PFT task relative to controls. No PFT performance differences were observed between the on and off medication states despite significantly greater motor symptoms on the Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS) in the off medication state. Functional imaging results demonstrated decreased activation within the sensorimotor cortex (SMC), cerebellum, and medial premotor system in the PD patients compared to controls. With dopamine replacement, an increase in the spatial extent of activation was observed within the SMC, SMA, and putamen in the PD patients. These results indicate that impaired timing reproduction in PD patients is associated with reduced brain activation within motor and medial premotor circuits. Despite a lack of improvement in PFT performance, PD patient's brain activation patterns were partially "normalized" with dopamine supplementation. These findings could not be attributed to greater head movement artifacts or basal ganglia atrophy within the PD group.