Impaired cognitive control in Parkinson's disease patients with freezing of gait in response to cognitive load

J Neural Transm (Vienna). 2015 May;122(5):653-60. doi: 10.1007/s00702-014-1271-6. Epub 2014 Jul 22.


Freezing of gait is a frequent and disabling symptom experienced by many patients with Parkinson's disease. A number of executive deficits have been shown to be associated with the phenomenon suggesting a common underlying pathophysiology, which as of yet remains unclear. Neuroimaging studies have also implicated the role of the cognitive control network in patients with freezing. To explore this concept, the current study examined error-monitoring as a measure of cognitive control. Thirty-four patients with and 38 without freezing of gait, who were otherwise well matched on disease severity, completed a colour-word interference task that allowed the specific assessment of error monitoring during conflict. Whilst both groups performed colour-naming and word-reading tasks equally well, those patients with freezing showed a pattern between conditions whereby they were better able to monitor performance and self-correct errors in the pure inhibition task but not after a switching rule was introduced. The novel results shown here provide insight into possible pathophysiological mechanisms involved in cognitive load and error monitoring in patients with freezing of gait. These results provide further evidence for the role of functional frontostriatal circuitry impairments in patients with freezing of gait and have implications for future studies and possible therapeutic interventions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cognition
  • Cohort Studies
  • Executive Function*
  • Female
  • Gait Disorders, Neurologic / complications*
  • Gait Disorders, Neurologic / physiopathology
  • Gait Disorders, Neurologic / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Inhibition, Psychological*
  • Male
  • Parkinson Disease / complications*
  • Parkinson Disease / physiopathology
  • Parkinson Disease / psychology*
  • Stroop Test