The supplementary motor area contributes to the timing of the anticipatory postural adjustment during step initiation in participants with and without Parkinson's disease

Neuroscience. 2009 Dec 1;164(2):877-85. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2009.08.002. Epub 2009 Aug 7.


The supplementary motor area (SMA) is thought to contribute to the generation of anticipatory postural adjustments (APAs, which act to stabilize supporting body segments prior to movement), but its precise role remains unclear. In addition, participants with Parkinson's disease (PD) exhibit impaired function of the SMA as well as decreased amplitudes and altered timing of the APA during step initiation, but the contribution of the SMA to these impairments also remains unclear. To determine how the SMA contributes to generating the APA and to the impaired APAs of participants with PD, we examined the voluntary steps of eight participants with PD and eight participants without PD, before and after disrupting the SMA and dorsolateral premotor cortex (dlPMC), in separate sessions, with 1-Hz repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS). Both groups exhibited decreased durations of their APAs after rTMS over the SMA but not over the dlPMC. Peak amplitudes of the APAs were unaffected by rTMS to either site. The symptom severity of the participants with PD positively correlated with the extent that rTMS over the SMA affected the durations of their APAs. The results suggest that the SMA contributes to the timing of the APA and that participants with PD exhibit impaired timing of their APAs, in part, due to progressive dysfunction of circuits associated with the SMA.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Parkinson Disease / physiopathology*
  • Posture / physiology*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Task Performance and Analysis
  • Time Factors
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation
  • Walking / physiology*