Affiliations: Overton Brooks VA Medical Center, Shreveport LA, USA | LSU Health Sciences Center, Shreveport LA, USA | Center for Neuroscience, UC Davis, Davis CA, USA | Department of Psychology, William Jessup University, Rocklin, CA, USA | VA Northern California Health Care System, Martinez CA, USA | Department of Neurology, UC Davis, Sacramento CA, USA
Note:  Correspondence to: Elizabeth Disbrow, Ph.D., Department of Neurology, LSU Health Sciences Center, PO Box 33932, Shreveport, LA 71130-3932, USA. Tel.: +318 675 7184; Fax: +318 675 6382; E-mail: [email protected]
Abstract: Background: Parkinson's disease (PD) can result in cognitive impairment. Executive dysfunction often appears early, followed by more widespread deficits later in the course of the disease. Disruption of parallel basal ganglia thalamo-cortical loops that subserve motor and cognitive function has been described in PD. However, there is emerging evidence that the default mode network, a cortical network that is active at rest with reduced activation during task performance, may also play a role in disease related cognitive decline. Objective: To determine the relative contribution of the executive control and default mode networks to parkinsonian executive dysfunction in medicated non-demented patients. Methods: We used BOLD fMRI to measure resting state functional connectivity in the executive control and default mode (DM) networks, and examined switching, processing speed, working memory/attention and motor performance in 14 medicated non-demented PD participants and 20 controls. Results: Performance on neuropsychological measures was similar across groups. Functional connectivity was not different across disease conditions in the executive control network. DMN functional connectivity was decreased in the PD group, specifically between posterior cingulate, medial prefrontal, and inferior parietal nodes. Greater DMN functional connectivity was associated with faster processing speed in the PD group. Conclusions: The continuous relationship between DMN disconnection and executive task performance indicates a possible biological contributor to parkinsonian cognitive deficits. The dynamics of executive control network change may be different than that of the DMN, suggesting less sensitivity to early cognitive deficits.
Keywords: Executive control network, default mode network, switching, fMRI