Visual hallucinations in dementia with Lewy bodies: transcranial magnetic stimulation study

  1. Lookup NU author(s)
  2. Dr John-Paul Taylor
  3. Dr Michael Firbank
  4. Nicola Barnett
  5. Dr Urs Mosimann
  6. Professor Janet Eyre
  7. Professor Ian McKeith
  8. Professor John O'Brien
Author(s)Taylor JP, Firbank M, Barnett N, Pearce S, Livingstone A, Mosimann U, Eyre JA, McKeith IG, O'Brien JT
Publication type Article
JournalBritish Journal of Psychiatry
Year2011
Volume199
Issue6
Pages492-500
ISSN (print)0007-1250
ISSN (electronic)1472-1465
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Background: The aetiology of visual hallucinations (VH) is poorly understood in dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB). Pathological alterations in visual cortical excitability may be one contributory mechanism. Aims: To determine: 1) visual cortical excitability in DLB patients compared to aged matched controls 2) the relationship between visual cortical excitability and VH in DLB. Methods: Visual cortical excitability was determined by using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) applied to the occiput to elicit phosphenes (transient subjective visual responses) in 21 DLB patients and 19 aged matched controls. Results: Phosphene parameters were similar between control and DLB patients tested. However in DLB patients, TMS measures of visual cortical excitability correlated strongly with the severity of VH (p≤0.005). Six DLBs experienced VH-like phosphenes (e.g. seeing people or figures on stimulation) compared with none of the controls (p=0.02). Conclusions: Increased visual cortical excitability in DLB does not appear to explain VH but it may be a marker for their severity.
PublisherRoyal College of Psychiatrists
URLhttp://dx.doi.org/10.1192/bjp.bp.110.090373
DOI10.1192/bjp.bp.110.090373
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