It is not yet well understood how dopaminergic therapy improves cognitive and motor function in Parkinson's disease (PD). One possibility is that it reduces the pathological synchronization within and between the cortex and basal ganglia, thus improving neural communication. We tested this hypothesis by recording scalp electroencephalography (EEG) in PD patients when On and Off medication, during a brief resting state epoch (no task), and during performance of a stop signal task that is thought to engage two partially overlapping (or different) frontal-basal-ganglia circuits. For resting state EEG, we measured pair-wise coherence between scalp electrodes in several frequency bands. Consistent with previous studies, in the Off medication state, those patients with the greatest clinical impairment had the strongest coherence, especially in the beta band, indicating pathological over-synchronization. Dopaminergic medication reduced this coherence. For the stop signal task, On vs. Off medication increased beta band power over right frontal cortex for successful stopping and over bilateral sensorimotor cortex for going, especially for those patients who showed greater clinical improvement. Thus, medication reduced pathological coherence in beta band at rest and increased task related beta power for two potentially dissociable cortico-basal ganglia circuits. These results support the hypothesis that dopaminergic medication in PD improves neural communication both at rest and for executive and motor function.
Keywords: Levodopa; Response inhibition; Resting state EEG; Stop-signal task.