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Sci Rep. 2019 Mar 4;9(1):3423. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-39294-z.

Reduced habit-driven errors in Parkinson's Disease.

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Department of Psychological Sciences, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK.
Department of Anatomy, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.
Sheffield Institute for Translational Neuroscience (SITraN), University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK.
Department of Linguistics, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, USA.
HM Hospitales, Centre for Integrative Neuroscience AC, Hospital Universitario HM Puerta del Sur, Mostoles and CEU San Pablo University. Center for Networked Biomedical Research on Neurodegenerative Diseases, Institute Carlos III, Madrid, Spain.
Department of Psychology, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK.


Parkinson's Disease can be understood as a disorder of motor habits. A prediction of this theory is that early stage Parkinson's patients will display fewer errors caused by interference from previously over-learned behaviours. We test this prediction in the domain of skilled typing, where actions are easy to record and errors easy to identify. We describe a method for categorizing errors as simple motor errors or habit-driven errors. We test Spanish and English participants with and without Parkinson's, and show that indeed patients make fewer habit errors than healthy controls, and, further, that classification of error type increases the accuracy of discriminating between patients and healthy controls. As well as being a validation of a theory-led prediction, these results offer promise for automated, enhanced and early diagnosis of Parkinson's Disease.

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