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Keywords:

  • Vestibuloocular reflex cancellation;
  • Parkinson's disease;
  • Multiple system atrophy;
  • Supranuclear palsy

Abstract

We have measured the gain of the vestibuloocular reflex (VOR) in darkness and its cancellation by fixation in 37 patients with Parkinson's disease (PD), 26 patients with multiple system atrophy (MSA), 11 patients with progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), and 19 normal volunteers. The capacity to cancel the VOR by fixation (VOR cancellation) was significantly reduced in the MSA and PSP patients compared with the PD and normal subjects (p < 10−4). A VOR cancellation < 90% (i.e., the mean VOR cancellation of the normals - 2 SD) was present in four PD patients, 23 MSA patients, and 11 PSP patients. This criteria distinguished PD and MSA with a 89% sensitivity and a 89% specificity. Our results demonstrate that the VOR cancellation is impaired in most patients with MSA and PSP but not with PD. In MSA patients, the abnormal VOR cancellation is probably not related to the nigrostriatal dopaminergic deficit and more likely reflects a cerebellar dysfunction. Impaired VOR cancellation is a clinical criteria to differentiate MSA and PSP from PD.