Parkinson's disease (PD) results in various types of motor impairments including bradykinesia, tremor and rigidity. Recent research has implicated more fundamental processes at the source of the observed motor deficits. Among these, problems in the sequencing and/or timing of complex movements and in the execution of internally-guided tasks. Furthermore, PD patients exhibit procedural learning deficits which may complicate the interpretation of experimental results of studies involving novel sensorimotor tasks. The reach-to-grasp movement is a complex, overlearned sensorimotor task consisting of two semi-independent components, a relatively simple reach or transport phase and a more complex manipulation or prehension phase. In the present study, we used a novel technique in order to study the evolution of hand preshaping during the reach-to-grasp movement of PD patients and age-matched controls to objects of different shapes in three different spatial locations. Our results indicate that while PD patients are able to specify movement direction as well as controls, their hand preshaping exhibits substantial impairments. Other prehension measures, such as the time to peak aperture (TPA), indicate that PD patients delayed execution of the grasp until visual feedback of their hand was available. Overall, our results suggest that PD patients' internal guidance processes are severely disrupted, having to rely on visual feedback in order to modulate their hand shape to fit the contours of the target objects during a reach-to-grasp movement.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Cognitive Neuroscience
- Behavioral Neuroscience
- Basal ganglia
- Hand configuration