Mid-frontal theta activity is diminished during cognitive control in Parkinson's disease

Neuropsychologia. 2018 Aug;117:113-122. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2018.05.020. Epub 2018 May 23.


Mid-frontal theta activity underlies cognitive control. These 4-8 Hz rhythms are modulated by cortical dopamine and can be abnormal in patients with Parkinson's disease (PD). Here, we investigated mid-frontal theta deficits in PD patients during a task explicitly involving cognitive control. We collected scalp EEG from high-performing PD patients and demographically matched controls during performance of a modified Simon reaction-time task. This task involves cognitive control to adjudicate response conflict and error-related adjustments. Task performance of PD patients was indistinguishable from controls, but PD patients had less mid-frontal theta modulations around cues and responses. Critically, PD patients had attenuated mid-frontal theta activity specifically associated with response conflict and post-error processing. These signals were unaffected by medication or motor scores. Post-error mid-frontal theta activity was correlated with disease duration. Classification of control vs. PD from these data resulted in a specificity of 69% and a sensitivity of 72%. These findings help define the scope of mid-frontal theta aberrations during cognitive control in PD, and may provide insight into the nature of PD-related cognitive dysfunction.

Keywords: Cognitive control; EEG; Error; Parkinson's disease; Theta.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology*
  • Cognition Disorders / pathology*
  • Cues
  • Electroencephalography
  • Female
  • Fourier Analysis
  • Frontal Lobe / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Status Schedule
  • Middle Aged
  • Parkinson Disease / complications*
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Theta Rhythm / physiology*