Bimanual simultaneous motor performance and impaired ability to shift attention in Parkinson's disease.
The ability to share time and to shift attention between bimanual simultaneous motor tasks were studied in 18 patients with Parkinson's disease (PD) and 19 age- and intelligence-matched controls. The task consisted of drawing triangles with the dominant hand and squeezing a rubber bulb with the nondominant hand. Motor performance was measured using the variables: amplitude of squeezing, frequency of squeezing and velocity of drawing triangles. After eliminating variance due to baseline differences in single-handed performance, the bimanual simultaneous performance of PD and controls turned out to be similar to the frequency of squeezing and the velocity of drawing triangles. The amplitude of squeezing, however, differed between the two groups: it was significantly reduced in PD. Arguably the disturbance in the bimanual performance of PD patients was not due to a disorder of time sharing, but to a decreased ability to shift attention from the visually cued task to the non visually cued task. The results agree with current evidence that PD patients are more impaired when they have to rely upon internal control for the regulation of shifting attention than when external cues are available.