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Brain. 1999 Feb;122 ( Pt 2):303-13.

Impairment in preattentive visual processing in patients with Parkinson's disease.

Author information

1
Neurologische Universitätsklinik, Universität Freiburg, Germany.

Abstract

We explored the possibility of whether preattentive visual processing is impaired in Parkinson's disease. With this aim, visual discrimination thresholds for orientation texture stimuli were determined in two separate measurement sessions in 16 patients with idiopathic Parkinson's disease. The results were compared with those of 16 control subjects age-matched and 16 young healthy volunteers. Discrimination thresholds were measured in a four-alternative spatial forced-choice paradigm, in which subjects judged the location of a target embedded in a background of distractors. Four different stimulus configurations were employed: (i) a group of vertical targets among horizontal distractors ('vertical line targets'); (ii) targets with varying levels of orientation difference on a background of spatially filtered vertically oriented noise ('Gaussian filtered noise'); (iii) one 'L' among 43 '+' signs ('texton'), all of which assess preattentive visual processing; and (iv) control condition, of one 'L' among 43 'T' distractors ('non-texton' search target), which reflects attentive visual processing. In two of the preattentive tasks (filtered noise and texton), patients with Parkinson's disease required significantly greater orientation differences and longer stimulus durations, respectively. In contrast, their performance in the vertical line target and non-texton search target was comparable to that of the matched control subjects. These differences were more pronounced in the first compared with the second session. Duration of illness and age within the patient group correlated significantly with test performance. In all conditions tested, the young control subjects performed significantly better than the more elderly control group, further indicating an effect of age on this form of visual processing. The results suggest that, in addition to the well documented impairment in retinal processing, idiopathic Parkinson's disease is associated with a deficit in preattentive cortical visual processing.

PMID:
10071058
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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