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Exp Neurol. 1999 Jul;158(1):63-75.

Functional MRI of basal ganglia responsiveness to levodopa in parkinsonian rhesus monkeys.

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  • 1Department of Radiology, University of Kentucky College of Medicine, Lexington 40536, USA.


Functional MRI (fMRI) was used to study striatal sensitivity to levodopa in hemiparkinsonian rhesus monkeys. Responses consistent with increased neuronal activity were seen in areas whose normal dopaminergic input from the substantia nigra pars compacta had been ablated by MPTP. Sites of increased activity following levodopa included the lateral putamen, the ventral region of the caudate head, septal areas, and midlateral amygdala in the MPTP-lesioned hemisphere. Increased activity was also observed in the same areas in the nonlesioned hemisphere, but was less pronounced in spatial extent and magnitude, suggesting either subclinical contralateral damage and/or functional adaptations in the contralateral dopamine systems. The increases in neuronal activity following levodopa treatment were temporally correlated with increases in striatal dopamine levels. Chronic levodopa treatment reduced behavioral responsiveness to levodopa and abolished the fMRI response. These results suggest that fMRI can detect changes in dopamine receptor-mediated neuronal sensitivity to dopaminergic agents.

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