Findings from previous research using the classic stop-signal task indicate that the subthalamic nucleus (STN) plays an important role in the ability to inhibit motor actions. Here we extend these findings using a stop-change task that requires voluntary action override to stop an ongoing motor response and change to an alternative response. Sixteen patients diagnosed with Parkinson's disease (PD) and 16 healthy control participants (HC) performed the stop-change task. PD patients completed the task when deep-brain stimulation (DBS) of the STN was turned on and when it was turned off. Behavioral results indicated that going, stopping, and changing latencies were shortened significantly among PD patients during STN DBS, the former two reductions replicating findings from previous DBS studies using the classic stop-signal task. The shortened go latencies observed among PD patients fell within the control range. In contrast, stopping latencies among PD patients, although reduced significantly, continued to be significantly longer than those of the HC. Like go latencies, stop-change latencies were reduced sufficiently among PD patients for them to fall within the control range, a novel finding. In conclusion, STN DBS produced a general, but differential, improvement in the ability of PD patients to override motor actions. Going, stopping, and stop-change latencies were all shortened, but only going and stop-change latencies were normalized.
Keywords: Deep-brain stimulation; Inhibitory action control; Parkinson’s disease; Stop-change task; Subthalamic nucleus.
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