Parkinson disease MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)
Test 2 of 4: 30 September 2016
*“Conventional MRI cannot detect early signs of Parkinson’s, so the Oxford researchers used an MRI technique, called resting-state fMRI, in which people are simply required to stay still in the scanner. They used the MRI data to look at the ‘connectivity’, or strength of brain networks, in the basal ganglia – part of the brain known to be involved in Parkinson’s disease.
The team compared 19 people with early-stage Parkinson’s disease while not on medication with 19 healthy people, matched for age and gender. They found that the Parkinson’s patients had much lower connectivity in the basal ganglia.
The researchers were able to define a cut-off or threshold level of connectivity. Falling below this level was able to predict who had Parkinson’s disease with 100% sensitivity (it picked up everyone with Parkinson’s) and 89.5% specificity (it picked up few people without Parkinson’s – there were few false positives).
Dr Mackay explains: ‘Our MRI approach showed a very strong difference in connectivity between those who had Parkinson’s disease and those that did not. So much so, that we wondered if it was too good to be true and carried out a validation test in a second group of patients. We got a similar result the second time.'”