Default mode network links to visual hallucinations: A comparison between Parkinson's disease and multiple system atrophy

Raffaella Franciotti, Stefano Delli Pizzi, Bernardo Perfetti, Armando Tartaro, Laura Bonanni, Astrid Thomas, Luca Weis, Roberta Biundo, Angelo Antonini, Marco Onofrj

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Studying default mode network activity or connectivity in different parkinsonisms, with or without visual hallucinations, could highlight its roles in clinical phenotypes' expression. Multiple system atrophy is the archetype of parkinsonism without visual hallucinations, variably appearing instead in Parkinson's disease (PD). We aimed to evaluate default mode network functions in multiple system atrophy in comparison with PD.

METHODS: Functional magnetic resonance imaging evaluated default mode network activity and connectivity in 15 multiple system atrophy patients, 15 healthy controls, 15 early PD patients matched for disease duration, 30 severe PD patients (15 with and 15 without visual hallucinations), matched with multiple system atrophy for disease severity. Cortical thickness and neuropsychological evaluations were also performed.

RESULTS: Multiple system atrophy had reduced default mode network activity compared with controls and PD with hallucinations, and no differences with PD (early or severe) without hallucinations. In PD with visual hallucinations, activity and connectivity was preserved compared with controls and higher than in other groups. In early PD, connectivity was lower than in controls but higher than in multiple system atrophy and severe PD without hallucinations. Cortical thickness was reduced in severe PD, with and without hallucinations, and correlated only with disease duration. Higher anxiety scores were found in patients without hallucinations.

CONCLUSIONS: Default mode network activity and connectivity was higher in PD with visual hallucinations and reduced in multiple system atrophy and PD without visual hallucinations. Cortical thickness comparisons suggest that functional, rather than structural, changes underlie the activity and connectivity differences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1237-1247
Number of pages11
JournalMovement Disorders
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2015


  • default mode network
  • multiple system atrophy
  • Parkinson's disease
  • visual hallucinations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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