Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 222, Issue 4, pp 455–470

Effects of magnitude and magnitude predictability of postural perturbations on preparatory cortical activity in older adults with and without Parkinson’s disease

Research Article

DOI: 10.1007/s00221-012-3232-3

Cite this article as:
Smith, B.A., Jacobs, J.V. & Horak, F.B. Exp Brain Res (2012) 222: 455. doi:10.1007/s00221-012-3232-3


The goal of this study was to identify whether impaired cortical preparation may relate to impaired scaling of postural responses of people with Parkinson’s disease (PD). We hypothesized that impaired scaling of postural responses in participants with PD would be associated with impaired set-dependent cortical activity in preparation for perturbations of predictable magnitudes. Participants performed postural responses to backward surface translations. We examined the effects of perturbation magnitude (predictable small vs. predictable large) and predictability of magnitude (predictable vs. unpredictable-in-magnitude) on postural responses (center-of-pressure (CoP) displacements) and on preparatory electroencephalographic (EEG) measures of contingent negative variation (CNV) and alpha and beta event-related desynchronization (ERD). Our results showed that unpredictability of perturbation magnitude, but not the magnitude of the perturbation itself, was associated with increased CNV amplitude at the CZ electrode in both groups. While control participants scaled their postural responses to the predicted magnitude of the perturbation, their condition-related changes in CoP displacements were not correlated with condition-related changes in EEG preparatory activity (CNV or ERD). In contrast, participants with PD did not scale their postural responses to the predicted magnitude of the perturbation, but they did demonstrate greater beta ERD in the condition of predictably small-magnitude perturbations and greater beta ERD than the control participants at the CZ electrode. In addition, increased beta ERD in PD was associated with decreased adaptability of postural responses, suggesting that preparatory cortical activity may have a more direct influence on postural response scaling for people with PD than for control participants.


Parkinson’s diseaseElectroencephalographyContingent negative variationEvent-related desynchronizationPosturePreparation

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Beth A. Smith
    • 1
  • Jesse V. Jacobs
    • 2
  • Fay B. Horak
    • 1
  1. 1.Balance Disorders Laboratory, Departments of Neurology and Behavioral NeuroscienceOregon Health and Science UniversityBeavertonUSA
  2. 2.Human Motion Analysis Laboratory, Department of Rehabilitation and Movement ScienceUniversity of VermontBurlingtonUSA