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Cortex. 2017 Aug;93:178-192. doi: 10.1016/j.cortex.2017.05.020. Epub 2017 Jun 3.

Normal aging and Parkinson's disease are associated with the functional decline of distinct frontal-striatal circuits.

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Institute of Psychology, Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland. Electronic address:
The Division of Brain Sciences, Imperial College London, UK.
Cambridge Centre for Brain Repair, University of Cambridge, UK; Department of Neurology, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, UK.
The Brain and Mind Institute, University of Western Ontario, Canada.


Impaired ability to shift attention between stimuli (i.e. shifting attentional 'set') is a well-established part of the dysexecutive syndrome in Parkinson's Disease (PD), nevertheless cognitive and neural bases of this deficit remain unclear. In this study, an fMRI-optimised variant of a classic paradigm for assessing attentional control (Hampshire and Owen 2006) was used to contrast activity in dissociable executive circuits in early-stage PD patients and controls. The results demonstrated that the neural basis of the executive performance impairments in PD is accompanied by hypoactivation within the striatum, anterior cingulate cortex (vACC), and inferior frontal sulcus (IFS) regions. By contrast, in aging it is associated with hypoactivation of the anterior insula/inferior frontal operculum (AI/FO) and the pre-supplementary motor area (preSMA). Between group behavioural differences were also observed; whereas normally aging individuals exhibited routine-problem solving deficits, PD patients demonstrated more global task learning deficits. These findings concur with recent research demonstrating model-based reinforcement learning deficits in PD and provide evidence that the AI/FO and IFS circuits are differentially impacted by PD and normal aging.


Aging; Attentional set-shifting; Frontostriatal circuitry; Functional fMRI; Learning; Parkinson's disease

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