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Behav Brain Res. 2011 Mar 1;217(2):391-8. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2010.11.010. Epub 2010 Nov 10.

Drug treatment and familiar music aids an attention shift from vision to somatosensation in Parkinson's disease on the reach-to-eat task.

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Department of Neuroscience, University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada T1K 3M4.


Sensory control of the natural skilled movement of reaching for a food target to eat (reach-to-eat) is closely coupled to the successive phases of the movement. Control subjects visually fixate the target from hand movement onset to the point that the digits contact the food, at which point they look away. This relationship between sensory attention and limb movement suggests that whereas limb advance is under visual control, grasping, limb withdrawal, and releasing the food to the mouth is guided by somatosensation. The pattern of sensory control is altered in Parkinson's disease (PD). PD subjects may visually fixate the target for longer durations prior to movement initiation, during the grasp, and during the initial portion of hand withdrawal suggesting that vision compensates for a somatosensory impairment. Because both medication and listening to favorite musical pieces have been reported to normalize some movements in subjects with PD, the present study compared the effect of medication and listening to preferred musical pieces on sensory attention shifts from vision to somatosensation during the reach-to-eat movement. Biometric measures of eye movement and the movement of the reaching limb were collected from PD subjects and aged-matched control subjects in four conditions in their own homes: off medication, off medication with music, on medication, and on medication with music. Unmedicated PD subjects were slower to visually disengage the target after grasping it. Their disengage latency was shortened by both music and medication. Medication and music did not improve other aspects of reaching, including reaching duration and the ratings of the movement elements of limb advance, grasping, and limb withdrawal. The results are discussed in relation to the idea that one way in which medication and music may aid movement in PD by normalizing somatosensory control of forelimb movement thus reducing compensatory visual monitoring.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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