Cognitive aspects of freezing of gait in Parkinson's disease: a challenge for rehabilitation

J Neural Transm (Vienna). 2013 Apr;120(4):543-57. doi: 10.1007/s00702-012-0964-y. Epub 2013 Jan 18.


Freezing of gait (FOG) is a very disabling symptom affecting up to half of the patients with Parkinson's disease (PD). Evidence is accumulating that FOG is caused by a complex interplay between motor, cognitive and affective factors, rather than being a pure motor phenomenon. In the current paper, we review the evidence on the specific role of cognitive factors in FOG. Results from behavioral studies show that patients with FOG experience impairments in executive functioning and response selection which predict that motor learning may be compromised. Brain imaging studies strengthen the neural basis of a potential association between FOG and cognitive impairment, but do not clarify whether it is a primary or secondary determinant of FOG. A FOG-related reduction of cognitive resources implies that adaptation of rehabilitation interventions is indicated for patients with FOG to promote the consolidation of learning.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Executive Function / physiology*
  • Gait / physiology*
  • Gait Disorders, Neurologic / complications
  • Gait Disorders, Neurologic / psychology
  • Gait Disorders, Neurologic / rehabilitation*
  • Humans
  • Parkinson Disease / complications
  • Parkinson Disease / psychology
  • Parkinson Disease / rehabilitation*