Motor sequencing in Parkinson's disease: relationship to executive function and motor rigidity

Cortex. 2002 Dec;38(5):753-67. doi: 10.1016/s0010-9452(08)70042-x.


Parkinson's disease (PD) is a movement disorder that also affects central cognitive processing; however, the extent to which high-order cognitive processes disrupted by PD affect complex motor function is incompletely explicated. The present analysis provides an examination of the relative contributions of simple motor versus complex cognitive functions involving sequencing, problem solving, and overall cognitive status to complex motor movements involving sequencing and temporal ordering in PD. Motor sequencing performance was videotaped for quantitative scoring. Compared with an age-matched control group, the PD group was impaired on motor agility and motor sequencing tasks in addition to cognitive sequencing and set shifting tasks. Neither current cognitive functioning, age, disease duration, nor overall intellectual abilities accounted for the relationships between motor sequencing and cognitive sequencing abilities in PD. By contrast, both sequencing and nonsequencing executive functions predicted motor sequencing performance as well as or better than motor rigidity or overall cognitive status. These relationships were strongest for the most challenging motor sequencing task, fist-edge-palm, and did not apply to the least challenging task, which required simple alternations of hand movements. Unlike PD, controls showed correlations between motor sequencing tests and executive functioning only tapping nonsequencing abilities. Thus, despite the predominant motor feature of PD, executive functions, as assessed by sequencing and set formation, predicted motor sequencing performance as well as or better than simple motor performance. The results further suggest that the more complex the motor sequencing task, the more susceptible it is to influence from generalized cognitive sequencing ability.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Concept Formation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Skills*
  • Neuropsychological Tests* / statistics & numerical data
  • Parkinson Disease / diagnosis*
  • Parkinson Disease / psychology
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual
  • Problem Solving*
  • Psychometrics
  • Psychomotor Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Psychomotor Disorders / psychology
  • Reaction Time
  • Reference Values
  • Serial Learning*