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Parkinson’s disease dementia: a neural networks perspective

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Gratwicke J1, Jahanshahi M2, Foltynie T2.

Abstract

In the long-term, with progression of the illness, Parkinson’s disease dementia affects up to 90% of patients with Parkinson’s disease. With increasing life expectancy in western countries, Parkinson’s disease dementia is set to become even more prevalent in the future. However, current treatments only give modest symptomatic benefit at best. New treatments are slow in development because unlike the pathological processes underlying the motor deficits of Parkinson’s disease, the neural mechanisms underlying the dementing process and its associated cognitive deficits are still poorly understood. Recent insights from neuroscience research have begun to unravel the heterogeneous involvement of several distinct neural networks underlying the cognitive deficits in Parkinson’s disease dementia, and their modulation by both dopaminergic and non-dopaminergic transmitter systems in the brain. In this review we collate emerging evidence regarding these distinct brain networks to give a novel perspective on the pathological mechanisms underlying Parkinson’s disease dementia, and discuss how this may offer new therapeutic opportunities.