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Neuropsychologia. 2018 Aug;117:113-122. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2018.05.020. Epub 2018 May 23.

Mid-frontal theta activity is diminished during cognitive control in Parkinson's disease.

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Department of Neurology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, United States.
Department of Neurology, University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, United States.
Department of Psychology, University of New Mexico, United States. Electronic address:


Mid-frontal theta activity underlies cognitive control. These 4-8 Hz rhythms are modulated by cortical dopamine and can be abnormal in patients with Parkinson's disease (PD). Here, we investigated mid-frontal theta deficits in PD patients during a task explicitly involving cognitive control. We collected scalp EEG from high-performing PD patients and demographically matched controls during performance of a modified Simon reaction-time task. This task involves cognitive control to adjudicate response conflict and error-related adjustments. Task performance of PD patients was indistinguishable from controls, but PD patients had less mid-frontal theta modulations around cues and responses. Critically, PD patients had attenuated mid-frontal theta activity specifically associated with response conflict and post-error processing. These signals were unaffected by medication or motor scores. Post-error mid-frontal theta activity was correlated with disease duration. Classification of control vs. PD from these data resulted in a specificity of 69% and a sensitivity of 72%. These findings help define the scope of mid-frontal theta aberrations during cognitive control in PD, and may provide insight into the nature of PD-related cognitive dysfunction.


Cognitive control; EEG; Error; Parkinson's disease; Theta

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