Abnormal connectivity between the default mode and the visual system underlies the manifestation of visual hallucinations in Parkinson’s disease: A task-based fMRI study

James M. Shine (Lead Author), Alana J. Muller, Claire O’Callaghan, Michael Hornberger, Glenda M. Halliday, Simon J. G. Lewis

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Background: The neural substrates of visual hallucinations remain an enigma, due primarily to the difficulties associated with directly interrogating the brain during hallucinatory episodes.
Aims: To delineate the functional patterns of brain network activity and connectivity underlying visual hallucinations in Parkinson’s disease.
Methods: In this study, we combined functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) with a behavioral task capable of eliciting visual misperceptions, a confirmed surrogate for visual hallucinations, in 35 patients with idiopathic Parkinson’s disease. We then applied an independent component analysis to extract time series information for large-scale neuronal networks that have been previously implicated in the pathophysiology of visual hallucinations. These data were subjected to a task-based functional connectivity analysis, thus providing the first objective description of the neural activity and connectivity during visual hallucinations in patients with Parkinson’s disease.
Results: Correct performance of the task was associated with increased activity in primary visual regions; however, during visual misperceptions, this same visual network became actively coupled with the default mode network (DMN). Further, the frequency of misperception errors on the task was positively correlated with the strength of connectivity between these two systems, as well as with decreased activity in the dorsal attention network (DAN), and with impaired connectivity between the DAN and the DMNs, and ventral attention networks. Finally, each of the network abnormalities identified in our analysis were significantly correlated with two independent clinical measures of hallucination severity.
Conclusions: Together, these results provide evidence that visual hallucinations are due to increased engagement of the DMN with the primary visual system, and emphasize the role of dysfunctional engagement of attentional networks in the pathophysiology of hallucinations.
Original languageEnglish
Article number15003
Journalnpj Parkinson's Disease
Publication statusPublished - 22 Apr 2015

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