Leakage of decision uncertainty into movement execution in Parkinson’s disease?
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The concept of segregated basal ganglia–cortical loops entails that functional disturbances may result from abnormal processing within loops, but also from abnormal communication between loops. Cognitive and motor processes subserved by different basal ganglia–frontal loops may interfere with one another as a result of such abnormal communication, leakage, between loops. In Parkinson’s disease, movement execution has been found susceptible to decision uncertainty, attributed to this mechanism. Here, we evaluate whether this mechanism of abnormal coupling or leakage extends to perceptual decision-making with trial-by-trial control of decision uncertainty. We examined 10 Parkinson’s disease (PD) patients and healthy control subjects in a random-dot motion direction discrimination task with concurrent EEG recording. Random-dot motion was manipulated to make direction discrimination easy or difficult. Reaction times (RT) and movement times (MT) were recorded, and EEG was analysed to extract movement-related potentials. Easy versus difficult direction discrimination produced robust, equally large RT differences in patients and controls (>400 ms), along with a marked difference in error rates, confirming the efficacy of the task. Effects of easy versus difficult discrimination on MT were comparatively small (<50 ms) and did not differ between groups, despite robustly slower MT in patients. Lateralised movement-related EEG potentials reproduced the MT difference between patients and controls. Together, the results do not demonstrate an enhanced effect of decision uncertainty onto movement execution in PD. We surmise that leakage of decision uncertainty into movement execution is probably task-dependent, consistent with the view that the degree to which partial information is allowed to influence the motor system is under strategic control.
KeywordsParkinson’s disease Basal ganglia Dopamine Motor cortex Decision-making
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