Brain neuroimaging technologies are new techoniques to study the brain. Recent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies have demonstrated that the basal ganglia (i.e., the pallidum and putamen) are active at the onset of tremor and the cerebellar circuit displays activity that is correlated with the magnitude of the ongoing tremor. Both the basal ganglia and the cerebellum are connected to the motor cortex because the motor cortex is a component of both circuits, indicating the presence of pathology in the cerebello-thalamo-cortical (CTC) circuit in PD patients with tremor.
Animal studies have shown that acupuncture plays a potential neuroprotective and restorative role in neuron survival. Acupuncture effect was reported to be similar to the effects of certain neuroprotective agents with anti-oxidative stress, anti-inflammatory and anti-apoptosis effects that improve motor performance in PD patients. Acupuncture activated substantia nigra, basal ganglia, precentral gyrus and prefrontal cortex in PD. Acupuncture could improve the daily life activities and motor symptoms in PD patients with tremor without placebo effect. Acupuncture has specific and nonspecific effects on different brain regions involved in PD tremor, and the motor and cognitive management of movement. The underlying mechanism of the effects of acupuncture on PD tremor may be related to a modification of the CTC circuit, and the modulation of the cognitive functional regions together with CTC circuit contributes to enhancing movement and improving the daily life activities of PD patients.
Li Z Front Aging Neurosci. 2018 Jul 5;10:206. doi: 10.3389/fnagi.2018.00206. eCollection 2018.