Background: A progressive reduction in the speed and amplitude of repetitive action is an essential component of bradykinesia, which is called sequence effect (SE). Because SE is specific to Parkinson's disease (PD) and is suggested to be associated with motor arrest, its features are of great interest. The aim of this study was, for the first time, to find the neural correlates of SE and to demonstrate whether dopaminergic deficit is correlated with SE.
Methods: We enrolled 12 patients with de novo PD at a tertiary referral hospital. Correlations between SE severity and alterations in gray and white matter were studied. The association between severity of the SE and striatal dopaminergic deficits was also analyzed.
Results: There was a significant negative correlation between the volumetric changes in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and the inferior semilunar lobule of the cerebellum and the degree of SE. There was a significant correlation between the long association fibers (the superior longitudinal fasciculus, the uncinate fasciculus, and the inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus) connecting the frontal lobes to the temporal, parietal, and occipital lobes and SE. There was a significant negative correlation between SE in the more affected hand and the caudate dopamine transporter binding in the more affected hemisphere.
Conclusions: Our results suggest that the ACC and the cerebellum (inferior semilunar lobule) are associated with the severity of SE. Taken together with DTI findings, the present study proposes that ACC may have an important role. Our data show that the caudate dopaminergic activity may be related to SE.