An evaluation of sensorimotor integration during locomotion toward a target in Parkinson's disease

Neuroscience. 2005;134(1):283-93. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2005.02.050.


Recent research suggests that basal ganglia dysfunction may result in problems integrating concurrent vision and proprioception during movement. We evaluated dopaminergic system involvement in this sensorimotor process during locomotion within a large sample of Parkinson's disease (PD) patients while "On" and "Off" their dopaminergic medications (n=25), in conditions that selectively manipulated the availability of proprioception, vision or both. The present experiment focused on two main objectives: i) to examine the relative influence of visual and proprioceptive inputs on locomotion and target accuracy in patients with PD; and ii) to examine the influence of dopamine replacement therapy on sensorimotor integration while moving toward the target. All participants walked at a self-selected pace on a GAITRite carpet in two baseline conditions (light and dark), as well as four experimental darkness conditions: a) to a remembered target (i.e. proprioception only), b) to a remembered target with light on chest for body position awareness (proprioception plus), c) with vision of a lit target, also with light on chest (vision and proprioception), d) pushed in wheelchair to remembered target (no proprioception or vision). Final position was measured by 2-D radial error, and revealed a group by condition interaction, suggesting that PD patients "Off" their medications move to targets with less accuracy, but approach the accuracy of healthy participants when in the "On" state. Both PD and healthy improved their accuracy with availability of concurrent vision and proprioception (condition c). Interestingly, our results demonstrate that PD "Off" performed the task with greater difficulty than when "On" medication, but only when proprioception was the sole source of feedback. Since PD, whether medicated or unmedicated were even more affected when proprioception was removed (wheelchair), a memory-related explanation can be ruled out. Our results suggest that the basal ganglia are not specifically involved in visuoproprioceptive integration; however, assimilation of proprioceptive feedback to guide an ongoing movement may be a critical function of the basal ganglia.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Dopamine Agents / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Locomotion / drug effects
  • Locomotion / physiology*
  • Male
  • Memory / drug effects
  • Memory / physiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Movement / drug effects
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Parkinson Disease / drug therapy
  • Parkinson Disease / physiopathology*
  • Proprioception / drug effects
  • Proprioception / physiology*
  • Psychomotor Performance / drug effects
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology


  • Dopamine Agents