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OBJECTIVES: The aim was to investigate whether patients with Parkinson's disease (PD) make movements that are of smaller amplitude when required to attend to a secondary task at the same time as performing a motor task. METHODS: Thirteen patients with idiopathic Parkinson's disease (mean age, 67.1 yrs) and 14 healthy control subjects (mean age, 66.2 yrs) were tested. The motor task was repeated opposition of the thumb and forefinger and the secondary task was a lexical decision task. RESULTS: The PD patients made hypometric movements, and the amplitude was further decreased when they performed the secondary task at the same time. There was no significant change for the control subjects. CONCLUSION: The unpaced motor task was less automatic for the PD patients than for the control subjects, and hence more subject to interference from a secondary task. We relate this to the underactivation of the supplementary motor cortex (SMA).

Original publication




Journal article


Mov Disord

Publication Date





422 - 427


Aged, Attention, Female, Hand Strength, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Motor Cortex, Motor Skills, Muscle Contraction, Parkinson Disease, Perceptual Disorders, Reaction Time, Speech Perception