Functional brain imaging techniques appear ideally suited to explore the pathophysiology of freezing of gait (FOG). In the last two decades, techniques based on magnetic resonance or nuclear medicine imaging have found a number of structural changes and functional disconnections between subcortical and cortical regions of the locomotor network in patients with FOG. FOG seems to be related in part to disruptions in the "executive-attention" network along with regional tissue loss including the premotor area, inferior frontal gyrus, precentral gyrus, the parietal and occipital areas involved in visuospatial functions of the right hemisphere. Several subcortical structures have been also involved in the etiology of FOG, principally the caudate nucleus and the locomotor centers in the brainstem. Maladaptive neural compensation may present transiently in the presence of acute conflicting motor, cognitive or emotional stimulus processing, thus causing acute network overload and resulting in episodic impairment of stepping. In this review we will summarize the state of the art of neuroimaging research for FOG. We will also discuss the limitations of current approaches and delineate the next steps of neuroimaging research to unravel the pathophysiology of this mysterious motor phenomenon.
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