Distinct patterns of brain activity in progressive supranuclear palsy and Parkinson’s disease

Roxana G. Burciu, Edward Ofori, Priyank Shukla, Peggy J. Planetta, Amy F. Snyder, Hong Li, Chris J. Hass, Michael S. Okun, Nikolaus R. McFarland, David E. Vaillancourt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Background: The basal ganglia-thalamo-cortical and cerebello-thalamo-cortical circuits are important for motor control. Whether their functioning is affected in a similar or different way by progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) and Parkinson’s disease (PD) is not clear. Methods: A functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) force production paradigm and voxel-based morphometry were used to assess differences in brain activity and macrostructural volumes between PSP, PD, and healthy age-matched controls. Results: We found that PSP and PD share reduced functional activity of the basal ganglia and cortical motor areas, but this is more pronounced in PSP than in PD. In PSP the frontal regions are underactive, whereas the posterior parietal and occipital regions are overactive as compared with controls and PD. Furthermore, lobules I through IV, V, and VI of the cerebellum are hypoactive in PSP and PD, whereas Crus I and lobule IX are hyperactive in PSP only. Reductions in gray and white matter volume are specific to PSP. Finally, the functional status of the caudate as well as the volume of the superior frontal gyrus predict clinical gait and posture measures in PSP. Conclusions: PSP and PD share hypoactivity of the basal ganglia, motor cortex, and anterior cerebellum. These patients also display a unique pattern, such that anterior regions of the cortex are hypoactive and posterior regions of the cortex and cerebellum are hyperactive. Together, these findings suggest that specific structures within the basal ganglia, cortex, and cerebellum are affected differently in PSP relative to PD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1248-1258
Number of pages11
JournalMovement Disorders
Issue number9
StatePublished - Aug 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Force
  • Functional MRI
  • Motor circuits
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Progressive supranuclear palsy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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