1. Changes in neuronal synchronization along and within the basal ganglia cortex circuit are essential to understand Parkinson's disease and might be used for early diagnosis, objective definition, and follow up for future therapeutic methods.
2. Our new non-invasive Radial Correlation Contrast (RCC) MRI Method , which measures changes in local neuronal synchronization by grouping neighboring voxels in relation to their temporal cross-correlation, is sensitive enough to detect such changes.
1. Establish a non-invasive MRI technique that estimates the level of neuronal synchronization.
2. Use this technique to compare 6-OHDA (a Parkinson's diseases rat model) and control rats at various locations expected to have different neuronal activity/synchronization.
3. Apply this test on PD patients and controls to evaluate if indeed this non-invasive measure can be use for diagnostic and disease follow up.
Animal studies: High spatial resolution fMRI BOLD contrast data (156 x 156 x 1000m3) were collected from 12 rat brains subjected to forepaw stimulation (6 6-OHDA and 6 shams). Amplitude and phase RCC maps were calculated for the OFF and the ON time-segments separately. Using the rat brain atlas, the forepaw sensory and motor cortex for each hemisphere were defined and comparison between groups was performed.
Human studies: Two different fMRI human studies were performed: One, focusing on the cortex (3 PD patients and 2 controls) and the other focusing on the basal ganglia nuclei (3 PD patient and one control). In both, we measured the temporal fluctuations  and the radial correlation contrast (RCC). Whereas the former is assumed to be a measure of activity, the latter is of synchronization.