The effects of startle and non-startle auditory stimuli on wrist flexion movement in Parkinson's disease

Neurosci Lett. 2013 Aug 26;548:56-60. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2013.05.069. Epub 2013 Jun 12.


Startle stimuli lead to shorter reaction times in control subjects and Parkinson's disease (PD) patients. However, non-startle stimuli also enhance movement initiation in PD. We wanted to examine whether a startle-triggered movement would retain similar kinematic and EMG-related characteristics compared to one induced by a non-startle external cue in PD patients. In this study we investigated the electromyography pattern and the reaction time during a wrist flexion movement in response to three different stimuli: a visual imperative stimulus; visual stimulus simultaneous with a non-startle auditory stimulus and with a startle auditory stimulus. Ten PD patients and ten aged matched controls participated in this study. The reaction times were faster for startle and non-startle stimuli in comparison with the visual imperative stimulus, in both patients and control subjects. The startle cue induced a faster reaction than the non-startle cue. The electromyography pattern remained unchanged across the conditions. The results suggest that the startle reaction effect for upper limb movements are unimpaired in PD patients and has different characteristics than the effect of non-startle stimuli.

Keywords: Intersensory facilitation; Parkinson; Startle; Wrist flexion.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation / methods*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cues*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Movement*
  • Parkinson Disease / physiopathology*
  • Reaction Time*
  • Reflex, Startle*
  • Wrist Joint / physiopathology*