Impulsivity Relates to Relative Preservation of Mesolimbic Connectivity in Patients with Parkinson Disease

Hiro Sparks, Hannah Riskin-Jones, Colin Price, Jasmine DiCesare, Ausaf Bari, Nadia Hashoush, Nader Pouratian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Introduction: The relationship between Parkinson Disease (PD) pathology, dopamine replacement therapy (DRT), and impulse control disorder (ICD) development is still incompletely understood. Given the sensorimotor-lateral substantia nigra (SN) selective degeneration associated with PD, we posit that a relative sparing of the limbic-medial SN in the context of DRT drives impulsive, reward-seeking behavior in PD patients with recent history of severe impulsivity. Methods: Impulsive and control participants were selected from a consecutive list of PD patients receiving pre-operative deep brain stimulation (DBS) planning scans including 3T structural MRI and 64 direction diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). Using previously identified substantia nigra (SN) subsegment network connectivity profiles to develop classification targets, split-hemisphere target-based SN segmentation with probabilistic tractography was performed. The relative subsegment volumes and strength of connectivity between the SN and the limbic, associative, and motor network targets were compared. Results: Our results show that there is greater probability of connectivity between the SN and limbic network targets relative to motor and associative network targets in PD patients with recent history of severe impulsivity as compared to PD patients without impulsivity (P = 0.0075). We did not observe relative volumetric subsegment differences across groups. Conclusion: Firstly, our results suggest that fine-grained, atlas-derived classification targets may be used in PD to parcellate and classify functionally distinct subsegments of the SN, with the apparent preservation of previously reported topographical limbic-medial SN, associative-ventral SN, and sensorimotor-lateral SN orientation. We suggest that relative, as opposed to absolute, degeneration amongst SN-associated dopaminergic networks relates to the impulsivity phenotype in PD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102259
JournalNeuroImage: Clinical
StatePublished - 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Parkinson Disease
  • diffusion tensor imaging
  • impulse control disorder
  • impulsivity
  • substantia nigra

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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