Diffusion alterations associated with Parkinson's disease symptomatology: A review of the literature

Julie M. Hall, Kaylena A. Ehgoetz Martens, Courtney C. Walton, Claire O'Callaghan, Peter E. Keller, Simon J.G. Lewis*, Ahmed A. Moustafa

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleResearchpeer-review

67 Citations (Scopus)


Parkinson's disease (PD) is a heterogeneous neurological disorder with a variety of motor and non-motor symptoms. The underlying mechanisms of these symptoms are not fully understood. An increased interest in structural connectivity analyses using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) in PD has led to an expansion of our understanding of the impact of abnormalities in diffusivity on phenotype. This review outlines the contribution of these abnormalities to symptoms of PD including bradykinesia, tremor and non-tremor phenotypes, freezing of gait, cognitive impairment, mood, sleep disturbances, visual hallucinations and olfactory dysfunction. Studies have shown that impairments in cognitive functioning are related to diffusion abnormalities in frontal and parietal regions, as well as in the corpus callosum and major fibres connecting midbrain and subcortical structures with the neocortex. However, the impact of diffusion alterations on motor, mood and other symptoms of PD are less well understood. The findings presented here highlight the challenges faced and the potential areas of future research avenues where DTI may be beneficial. Larger cohort studies and standardized imaging protocols are required to investigate current promising preliminary findings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12-26
Number of pages15
JournalParkinsonism and Related Disorders
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2016
Externally publishedYes


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