Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Degree

Master of Science

Program

Neuroscience

Supervisor

Dr. Penny MacDonald and Dr. Melvyn Goodale

Abstract

Patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD) are thought to be selectively impaired in consciously-mediated online automatic motor control, whereas the ability to perform subconscious online adjustments remains intact. This present study evaluates the hypothesis that the previously alleged deficits in online motor control in PD are not due to the consciousness of the correction, but rather are attributable to aspects of the prior experimental designs disproportionately penalizing patients for PD-related bradykinesia. Here, we implemented a modified traditional double-step paradigm to investigate consciously-mediated online motor control in PD, in a manner that would be unconfounded by disease-related bradykinesia. Further, we investigated the effects of dopamine-replacement therapy on performance. We found that PD patients (n=12) and healthy-matched controls (n=12) were equal in performing automatic online corrections whether or not these corrections were consciously perceived, and their performance was unaffected by dopaminergic therapy. These findings inform our understanding of automatic motor control in PD.


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