No sequence dependent modulation of the Simon effect in Parkinson's disease

Brain Res Cogn Brain Res. 2005 Sep;25(1):251-60. doi: 10.1016/j.cogbrainres.2005.05.015.


This study sought to evaluate impaired response tendencies and modulation of automatic processes in Parkinson's disease (PD), utilising a saccadic Simon task with stimulus-response (S-R) compatibility determined on the basis of cue shape. The appearance of either a circle or a square in one of two boxes presented peripherally required the generation of a leftward or rightward horizontal saccade, respectively. These goal-directed responses were considered behaviourally relevant to an examination of visuospatial performance. Although response times are typically faster when stimulus and response are spatially compatible than when they are not, sequence-dependent modulation of this effect results in large differences between S-R compatible and S-R incompatible trials when stimulus and response are spatially compatible in the preceding trial, and reduced or absent differences when stimulus and response are spatially incompatible in the preceding trial. Unlike control subjects, PD patients demonstrated significantly shorter saccadic latencies overall, compared to a baseline condition involving endogenously-driven saccades. Patients also responded erroneously to cue stimuli with greater frequency. Analyses of both saccadic latency and errors to cue demonstrated a Simon effect (relatively faster response for S-R compatible trials), irrespective of the preceding trial. This suggests impaired modulation of the Simon effect in PD, consistent with predictions of inhibitory dysfunction, or impaired episodic memory. These results demonstrate the pivotal role of the basal ganglia in the regulation of context-dependent neural activity.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Parkinson Disease / physiopathology*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Reaction Time / physiology*
  • Saccades / physiology*