Lateralisation of striatal function: Evidence from 18F-dopa PET in Parkinson's disease

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  • A. L. Cheesman, Hammersmith Hospital
  • ,
  • R. A. Barker, University of Cambridge, School of Clinical Medicine
  • ,
  • S. J.G. Lewis, University of Cambridge, School of Clinical Medicine
  • ,
  • T. W. Robbins, Cambridge University
  • ,
  • A. M. Owen, MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, Cambridge
  • ,
  • D. J. Brooks

Objectives: The aetiology of the cognitive changes seen in Parkinson's disease (PD) is multifactorial but it is likely that a significant contribution arises from the disruption of dopaminergic pathways. This study aimed to investigate the contribution of the dopaminergic system to performance on two executive tasks using 18F-6-fluorodopa positron emission tomography (F-dopa PET) in PD subjects with early cognitive changes. Methods: 16 non-demented, non-depressed PD subjects were evaluated with the Tower of London (TOL) spatial planning task, a verbal working memory task (VWMT) and 18F-dopa PET, all known to be affected in early PD. Statistical parametric mapping (SPM) localised brain regions in which 18F-dopa uptake covaried with performance scores. Frontal cortical resting glucose metabolism was assessed with 18F-fluoro-2-deoxy-D-glucose ( 18F-FDG) PET. Results: SPM localised significant covariation between right caudate 18F-dopa uptake (Ki) and TOL scores and between left anterior putamen Ki and VWMT performance. No significant covariation was found between task scores and F-dopa Ki values in either limbic or cortical regions. Frontal cortical glucose metabolism was preserved in all cases. Conclusions: These findings support a causative role of striatal dopaminergic depletion in the early impairment of executive functions seen in PD. They suggest that spatial and verbal executive tasks require integrity of the right and left striatum, respectively, and imply that the pattern of cognitive changes manifest by a patient with PD may reflect differential dopamine loss in the two striatal complexes.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry
Pages (from-to)1204-1210
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2005
Externally publishedYes

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