Parkinson's disease (PD) patients often show reductions in writing size (micrographia) as the length of the text they produce increases. The cause for these reductions in stroke size are not well understood. Reductions in stroke size could be associated with either concurrent processing demands that result from the coordination and control of fingers, wrist, and arm during writing and the processing of future words or increased extension of the wrist joint as the execution of the writing progresses to the right across the page, resulting in increased stiffness in the pen-limb system. Parkinson's patients and elderly controls wrote phrases of different lengths with target patterns in various serial positions. When the number of words to be written increased, PD patients reduced their stroke size of the initial target pattern, while the elderly controls did not reduce their stroke size. There was no systematic change in stroke size of the second pattern as function of serial position. This result suggests that PD patients reduce the size of their handwriting strokes when concurrent processing load increases.
Copyright 2001 Elsevier Science.