Complexity of Motor Sequences and Cortical Reorganization in Parkinson's Disease: A Functional MRI Study

Stefano Caproni, Marco Muti, Massimo Principi, Pierfausto Ottaviano, Domenico Frondizi, Giuseppe Capocchi, Piero Floridi, Aroldo Rossi, Paolo Calabresi, Nicola Tambasco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Motor impairment is the most relevant clinical feature in Parkinson's disease (PD). Functional imaging studies on motor impairment in PD have revealed changes in the cortical motor circuits, with particular involvement of the fronto-striatal network. The aim of this study was to assess brain activations during the performance of three different motor exercises, characterized by progressive complexity, using a functional fMRI multiple block paradigm, in PD patients and matched control subjects. Unlike from single-task comparisons, multi-task comparisons between similar exercises allowed to analyse brain areas involved in motor complexity planning and execution. Our results showed that in the single-task comparisons the involvement of primary and secondary motor areas was observed, consistent with previous findings based on similar paradigms. Most notably, in the multi-task comparisons a greater activation of supplementary motor area and posterior parietal cortex in PD patients, compared with controls, was observed. Furthermore, PD patients, compared with controls, had a lower activation of the basal ganglia and limbic structures, presumably leading to the impairment in the higher levels of motor control, including complexity planning and execution. The findings suggest that in PD patients occur both compensatory mechanisms and loss of efficiency and provide further insight into the pathophysiological role of distinct cortical and subcortical areas in motor dysfunction.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere66834
JournalPLoS One
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 25 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)


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