Characterization of graphomotor functions in individuals with Parkinson's disease and essential tremor

Behav Res Methods. 2017 Jun;49(3):913-922. doi: 10.3758/s13428-016-0752-y.


In this study, we explored the relationship between the clinical features and motor impairments related to the graphomotor function of individuals with Parkinson's disease (PD) and essential tremor (ET). We recruited 46 participants: 12 with PD, 13 with ET, and 21 controls. All participants were asked to perform six graphomotor tasks on a digitizer tablet: drawing straight lines, cursive-connected loops, discrete circles, and continuous circles, and making goal-aimed movements with a stylus in two different directions with three different accuracy constraints. The results showed that although participants with PD were able to draw straight lines slightly faster than controls, they produced cursive-connected loops much slower than controls. In addition, in contrast to controls and individuals with ET, PDs also drew the cursive loops progressively smaller. In the aiming task, we found that equivalent movements with high accuracy constraints were drawn slower by individuals with ET or PD than by controls. However, when performing the equivalent movements with moderate or low accuracy constraints, PDs performed similarly to controls. In contrast to the equivalent movements, PD and ET participants both performed nonequivalent movements slower than controls, no matter the demands arising from the accuracy constraints. The present study shows that simple graphic tasks can differentiate impairments in fine motor function resulting from ET and PD.

Keywords: Computerized handwriting evaluation; Essential tremor; Fine motor function; Graphomotor function; Parkinson’s disease.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Computers, Handheld
  • Essential Tremor / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Parkinson Disease / physiopathology*