Impulsivity traits and awareness of motor intention in Parkinson's disease: a proof-of-concept study

Neurol Sci. 2022 Jan;43(1):335-340. doi: 10.1007/s10072-021-05325-9. Epub 2021 May 28.


Introduction: In patients with Parkinson's disease (PD), impulsivity is still a matter of investigation. It has been hypothesized that impulsive personality traits may favour impulse control disorder (ICD) onset during dopaminergic therapy. In healthy subjects, a relationship between the awareness of motor intention and impulsive personality traits assessed by the Barratt impulsivity scale (BIS-11) has been reported. The aim of this study was to evaluate the relationship between the awareness of voluntary action and impulsivity traits in PD.

Methods: Twenty-eight PD patients (stages I-III on the Hoehn and Yahr scale) underwent an impulsivity trait assessment by the BIS-11 scale and a task based on the Libet's clock. Participants were requested to perform a self-initiated movement and report the time they first feel their intention to move (W-judgement) or the time of the actual movement (M-judgement).

Results: In patients with higher BIS-11 scores, the time lag between the W-judgement and the actual movement was significantly lower than in patients with lower BIS-11. No difference emerged in the M-judgement.

Conclusion: Data suggest that also in PD patients, the impulsive personality trait is related to a "delayed" awareness of motor intention and therefore to a shorter interval to allow a conscious "veto" of the impending action. Characterization of the temporal profile of awareness of motor intention could prove useful in identifying PD patients at risk of developing ICDs during dopaminergic treatment.

Keywords: Impulse disorders; Impulsivity; Libet’s clock; Motor awareness; Parkinson’s disease.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Impulsive Behavior
  • Intention
  • Judgment
  • Movement
  • Parkinson Disease* / drug therapy