Journal of Neural Transmission

, Volume 122, Issue 5, pp 653–660 | Cite as

Impaired cognitive control in Parkinson’s disease patients with freezing of gait in response to cognitive load

  • Courtney C. Walton
  • James M. Shine
  • Loren Mowszowski
  • Moran Gilat
  • Julie M. Hall
  • Claire O’Callaghan
  • Sharon L. Naismith
  • Simon J. G. Lewis
Neurology and Preclinical Neurological Studies - Original Article


Freezing of gait is a frequent and disabling symptom experienced by many patients with Parkinson’s disease. A number of executive deficits have been shown to be associated with the phenomenon suggesting a common underlying pathophysiology, which as of yet remains unclear. Neuroimaging studies have also implicated the role of the cognitive control network in patients with freezing. To explore this concept, the current study examined error-monitoring as a measure of cognitive control. Thirty-four patients with and 38 without freezing of gait, who were otherwise well matched on disease severity, completed a colour-word interference task that allowed the specific assessment of error monitoring during conflict. Whilst both groups performed colour-naming and word-reading tasks equally well, those patients with freezing showed a pattern between conditions whereby they were better able to monitor performance and self-correct errors in the pure inhibition task but not after a switching rule was introduced. The novel results shown here provide insight into possible pathophysiological mechanisms involved in cognitive load and error monitoring in patients with freezing of gait. These results provide further evidence for the role of functional frontostriatal circuitry impairments in patients with freezing of gait and have implications for future studies and possible therapeutic interventions.


Freezing of gait Parkinson’s disease Executive function Error monitoring Stroop task Cognitive control 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Courtney C. Walton
    • 1
    • 2
  • James M. Shine
    • 1
  • Loren Mowszowski
    • 1
    • 2
  • Moran Gilat
    • 1
  • Julie M. Hall
    • 1
  • Claire O’Callaghan
    • 3
  • Sharon L. Naismith
    • 1
    • 2
  • Simon J. G. Lewis
    • 1
  1. 1.Parkinson’s Disease Research Clinic, Brain and Mind Research InstituteUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Healthy Brain Ageing Program, Brain and Mind Research InstituteUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia
  3. 3.Neuroscience Research Australia and School of Medical SciencesUniversity of New South WalesSydneyAustralia

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