Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 212, Issue 3, pp 371–384

Deficits in inhibitory control and conflict resolution on cognitive and motor tasks in Parkinson’s disease

  • Ignacio Obeso
  • Leonora Wilkinson
  • Enrique Casabona
  • Maria Luisa Bringas
  • Mario Álvarez
  • Lázaro Álvarez
  • Nancy Pavón
  • Maria-Cruz Rodríguez-Oroz
  • Raúl Macías
  • Jose A. Obeso
  • Marjan Jahanshahi
Research Article


Recent imaging studies in healthy controls with a conditional stop signal reaction time (RT) task have implicated the subthalamic nucleus (STN) in response inhibition and the pre-supplementary motor area (pre-SMA) in conflict resolution. Parkinson’s disease (PD) is characterized by striatal dopamine deficiency and overactivity of the STN and underactivation of the pre-SMA during movement. We used the conditional stop signal RT task to investigate whether PD produced similar or dissociable effects on response initiation, response inhibition and response initiation under conflict. In addition, we also examined inhibition of prepotent responses on three cognitive tasks: the Stroop, random number generation and Hayling sentence completion. PD patients were impaired on the conditional stop signal reaction time task, with response initiation both in situations with or without conflict and response inhibition all being significantly delayed, and had significantly greater difficulty in suppressing prepotent or habitual responses on the Stroop, Hayling and random number generation tasks relative to controls. These results demonstrate the existence of a generalized inhibitory deficit in PD, which suggest that PD is a disorder of inhibition as well as activation and that in situations of conflict, executive control over responses is compromised.


Fronto-striatal circuits Parkinson’s disease Subthalamic nucleus Inhibition Stop signal task 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ignacio Obeso
    • 1
  • Leonora Wilkinson
    • 1
    • 5
  • Enrique Casabona
    • 2
  • Maria Luisa Bringas
    • 2
  • Mario Álvarez
    • 2
  • Lázaro Álvarez
    • 2
  • Nancy Pavón
    • 2
  • Maria-Cruz Rodríguez-Oroz
    • 3
    • 4
  • Raúl Macías
    • 2
  • Jose A. Obeso
    • 3
    • 4
  • Marjan Jahanshahi
    • 1
  1. 1.Cognitive-Motor Neuroscience Group, Sobell Department of Motor Neuroscience and Movement DisordersUCL Institute of Neurology, The National Hospital for Neurology and NeurosurgeryLondonUK
  2. 2.Movement Disorders and Neurophysiology UnitsCentro Internacional de Restauración Neurológica (CIREN)La HabanaCuba
  3. 3.Department of Neurology, Clínica Universitaria and Medical School of Navarra, Neuroscience Centre, CIMAUniversity of NavarraPamplonaSpain
  4. 4.Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red Sobre Enfermedades Neurodegenerativas (CIBERNED), Instituto Carlos IIIMinisterio de Investigación y CienciasBarcelonaSpain
  5. 5.Brain Stimulation UnitNational Institute of Neurological Disorders and StrokeBethesdaUSA

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