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Clinical EEG & Neuroscience Journal

Journal of Clinical EEG & Neuroscience, October, 2008

Cortical Functional Anatomy of Voluntary Saccades in Parkinson Disease

Jochem W. Rieger, Aleander Kim, Miklos Argyelan, Mark Farber, Sofya Glazman, Marc Liebeskind, Thomas Meyer and Ivan Bodis-Wollner


In Parkinson Disease (PD) several aspects of saccades are affected. The saccade-generating brainstem neurons are spared, however, the signals they receive may be flawed. In particular voluntary saccades suffer, but the functional anatomy of the impairment of saccade-related cortical control is unknown.

We measured blood-oxygenation-level-dependent (BOLD) activation with functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) while healthy participants and patients with PD performed horizontal voluntary saccades between peripheral visual targets or fixated centrally. We compared saccade-related BOLD-activity vs. fixation in patients with PD and in healthy controls and correlated perisaccadic BOLD-activity in PD patients with saccade kinetics (multistep saccades). Saccade related BOLD-activation was found in both PD and healthy participants in the superior parietal cortex (PEF) and the occipital cortex. Our results suggest remarkable hypoactivity of the frontal and supplementary eye fields (FEF and SEF) in PD patients. On the other hand, PD patients showed a statistically more reliable BOLD modulation than healthy participants in the posterior cingulate gyrus, the parahippocampal gyrus, inferior parietal lobule, precuneus and in the middle temporal gyrus.

Given abnormal frontal and normal PEF responses, our results suggest that in PD a frontal cortical circuitry, known to be associated with saccade planning, selection, and predicting a metric error of the saccade, is deficient.

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