Honors Theses

Date of Award

Spring 4-17-2023

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis


Communication Sciences and Disorders

First Advisor

Myriam Kornisch

Second Advisor

Toshikazu Ikuta

Third Advisor

Dwight Waddell

Relational Format



Understanding the role of brain network reallocation and adaptation within neurodegenerative disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease, is key in tracking disease progression and identifying potential biomarkers. In recent years, resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rs-fMRI) has been applied in order to better understand the cognitive decline and overall pathophysiology in individuals with Parkinson’s disease. The present study aimed to determine the potential role of functional connectivity changes in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex in individuals with Parkinson’s disease. This is a key brain region associated with cognitive skills and executive functions. Using rs-fMRI, clinical, and demographic data obtained from the Parkinson's Progression Markers Initiative, we assessed 61 individuals with Parkinson’s disease at two different sessions in order to evaluate longitudinal changes in functional connectivity. Our results indicate significantly reduced functional connectivity between the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and regions in the default mode network, specifically, the medial posterior parietal cortex and posterior cingulate cortex. These regions are high-level cognitive areas and are typically activated during directed and passive tasks such as recalling a memory or letting the mind wander. Our findings indicate that reduced functional connectivity between these regions may be considered as a correlate to the progressive decline in non-motor abilities (e.g., cognitive decline), as well as the neuropathological processes underlying Parkinson’s disease. Moreover, this functional architecture has the potential to be used as a biomarker to evaluate treatment response as Parkinson’s disease progresses.

Accessibility Status

Searchable text

Available for download on Monday, April 20, 2026