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Keywords:

  • grip force;
  • lift force;
  • conditional motor learning;
  • basal ganglia

Abstract

The objective of this study is to investigate whether subjects with Parkinson's disease are able to use arbitrary color cues linked to the mass of an object to be lifted allowing for the predictive selection of appropriate grip forces. Fourteen patients with Parkinson's disease used a precision grip to lift two objects of different masses (400 and 600 g) in random order. In a “no cue” condition, a noninformative neutral visual stimulus was presented before each lift, thereby not allowing any judgement about which mass to be lifted. In a “cue” condition an arbitrary color cue provided advance information about which of the two masses patients would have to lift in the subsequent trial. Patients performed the conditions with either hand and by both on and off drugs. In the “no cue” trials patients scaled the predictive grip force output according to the perceived mass of the preceding lift. In the “cue” experiment patients scaled grip force in a predictive manner to mass based on the provided color cues. The ability of arbitrary visuomotor mapping was evident at either hand and not influenced by medication on/off. The precision of arbitrary visuomotor mapping correlated negatively with age, but not with disease duration, severity of motor disability on and off drug, severity of cognitive impairment on and off drug, or the amount of levodopa equivalent daily dosage of dopaminergic drugs. These data imply that Parkinson's disease does not preclude the ability of visuomotor mapping in the grip-lift task. © 2009 Movement Disorder Society