Background: The integrity of frontal systems responsible for voluntary control and their interaction with subcortical regions involved in reflexive responses were studied in patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD). Previous studies have shown that patients with PD have impaired executive function, including deficits in attention, motor planning and decision making.
Methods: Executive function was measured through eye movements: reflexive (stimulus driven) prosaccades and voluntary (internally guided) antisaccades. Patients with advanced idiopathic PD, off and on their optimal levodopa therapy, were tested on a prosaccade and an antisaccade task and compared with matched controls.
Results: Levodopa significantly increased response time for reflexive prosaccades and reduced error rate for voluntary antisaccades.
Conclusions: Consistent with our proposed model, patients with PD in the medicated state are better able to plan and execute voluntary eye movements. These findings suggest levodopa improves function of the voluntary frontostriatal system, which is deficient in PD.
- AS, antisaccade
- PD, Parkinson’s disease
- PS, prosaccade
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Published online first 18 December 2006
Competing interests: None.