Behavioral studies have shown that the human motor system recycles motor parameters of previous actions, such as movement amplitude, when programming new actions. Shifting motor plans toward a new action forms a par-ticularly severe problem for patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD), a disorder that, in its early stage, is dominated by basal ganglia dysfunction. Here, we test whether this action selection deficit in Parkinson’s patientsarisesfrom an impaired ability to recycle motor parameters shared across subsequent actions. Parkinson’s patients off dopa-minergic medication (n = 16) and matched healthy controls (n = 16) performed a task that involved moving a hand-held dowel over an obstacle in the context of a sequence of aiming movements. Consistent with previous research, healthy participants continued making unnecessarily large hand movements after clearing the obstacle (defined as “hand path priming effect”), even after switching movements between hands. In contrast, Parkinson’s patients showed a reduced hand path priming effect, i.e., they performed biomechanically more efficient movements than controls, but only when switching movements between hands. This effect correlated with disease se-verity, such that patients with more severe motor symptoms had a smaller hand path priming effect. We propose that the basal ganglia mediate recycling of movement parameters across subsequent actions.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Basal ganglia
- Motor efficiency
- Motor planning
- Parkinson’s disease