Abstract

Background

Minor hallucinations and well‐structured hallucinations are considered in the severity continuum of the psychotic spectrum associated with Parkinson’s disease. Although their chronological relationship is largely unknown, the spatial patterns of brain atrophy in these 2 forms of hallucinations partially overlap, suggesting they share similar pathophysiological processes. Functional connectivity studies show that disruption of functional networks involved in perception and attention could be relevant in the emergence of well‐structured hallucinations. However, functional neuroimaging studies in patients with isolated minor hallucinations are lacking. The objectives of this study were to explore the structural and functional changes underlying minor hallucinations.

Methods

We compared patients with (n = 18) and without (n = 14) minor hallucinations using a multimodal structural (gray‐matter volume voxel‐based morphometry) and functional (seed‐to‐whole‐brain resting‐state functional MRI) neuroimaging study.

Results

Coincident with previously described structural changes in well‐structured hallucinations in Parkinson’s disease, patients with minor hallucinations exhibited gray‐matter atrophy with significant voxel‐wise differences in visuoperceptual processing areas and core regions of the default mode network. Functional connectivity changes consisted of altered connectivity within the default mode network, reduced negative correlation with task‐positive network, and aberrant connectivity between posterior regions of the default mode network and visual‐processing areas. These changes are in accordance with the attentional networks hypothesis proposed for well‐structured hallucinations.

Conclusions

Although longitudinal studies are needed to assess the potential role of minor hallucinations as an early clinical biomarker of progression to well‐structured hallucinations, the present findings show that the 2 phenomena share similar structural and functional brain correlates. © 2018 International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society

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