Altered activation patterns within the olfactory network in Parkinson's disease

Carolin Moessnang, Gabriele Frank, Ulrich Bogdahn, Jurgen Winkler, Mark W. Greenlee, Jochen Klucken

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35 Citations (Scopus)


Olfactory impairment is a consistent premotor symptom in sporadic Parkinson's disease (PD), presumably caused by pathological processes in the olfactory bulb and olfactory structures within mesolimbic brain areas. The objective of the present study was to obtain an in-depth insight into olfactory network dysfunction in PD patients. Event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging (3 T) was conducted with 16 early-stage PD patients and 16 matched controls during an odor detection task. Activation within the olfactory network was analyzed both in terms of strength of activation (whole-brain random effects, regions of interest [ROI] analysis based on the hemodynamic response function) as well as time-course characteristics (finite impulse response-based ROI analysis). Olfactory-induced activation in patients with PD in comparison to a standard activation pattern obtained from controls revealed profound hyperactivation in piriform and orbitofrontal cortices. However, whereas orbitofrontal areas seem to be unable to discriminate between signal and noise, primary olfactory cortex shows preserved discriminatory ability. These results support a complex network dysfunction that exceeds structural pathology observed in the olfactory bulb and mesolimbic cortices and thus demonstrate the important contribution of functional data to describe network dynamics occurring in the degenerating brain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1246-1253
Number of pages8
JournalCerebral Cortex
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • PD
  • cortical reorganization
  • fMRI
  • neural networks
  • olfaction


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