Alterations in white matter network topology contribute to freezing of gait in Parkinson’s disease

Julie M. Hall, James M. Shine, Kaylena A. Ehgoetz Martens, Moran Gilat, Kathryn M. Broadhouse, Jennifer Y.Y. Szeto, Courtney C. Walton, Ahmed A. Moustafa, Simon J.G. Lewis*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


Freezing of gait (FOG) is a common symptom in advanced Parkinson’s disease (PD). Despite current advances, the neural mechanisms underpinning this disturbance remain poorly understood. To this end, we investigated the structural organisation of the white matter connectome in PD freezers and PD non-freezers. We hypothesized that freezers would show an altered network architecture, which could hinder the effective information processing that characterizes the disorder. Twenty-six freezers and twenty-four well-matched non-freezers were included in this study. Using diffusion tensor imaging, we investigated the modularity and integration of the regional connectome by calculating the module degree z score and the participation coefficient, respectively. Compared to non-freezers, freezers demonstrated lower participation coefficients in the right caudate, thalamus, and hippocampus, as well as within superior frontal and parietal cortical regions. Importantly, several of these nodes were found within the brain’s ‘rich club’. Furthermore, group differences in module degree z scores within cortical frontal and sensory processing areas were found. Together, our results suggest that changes in the structural network topology contribute to the manifestation of FOG in PD, specifically due to a lack of structural integration between key information processing hubs of the brain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1353-1364
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Neurology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2018
Externally publishedYes


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