Abnormal temporal coupling of tactile perception and motor action in Parkinson's disease

Antonella Conte, Daniele Belvisi, Matteo Tartaglia, Francesca Natalia Cortese, Viola Baione, Emanuele Battista, Xiao Y. Zhu, Giovanni Fabbrini, Alfredo Berardelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Evidence shows altered somatosensory temporal discrimination threshold (STDT) in Parkinson's disease in comparison to normal subjects. In healthy subjects, movement execution modulates STDT values through mechanisms of sensory gating. We investigated whether STDT modulation during movement execution in patients with Parkinson's disease differs from that in healthy subjects. In 24 patients with Parkinson's disease and 20 healthy subjects, we tested STDT at baseline and during index finger abductions (at movement onset "0", 100,and 200 ms thereafter). We also recorded kinematic features of index finger abductions. Fifteen out of the 24 patients were also tested ON medication. In healthy subjects, STDT increased significantly at 0, 100, and 200 ms after movement onset, whereas in patients with Parkinson's disease in OFF therapy, it increased significantly at 0 and 100 ms but returned to baseline values at 200 ms. When patients were tested ON therapy, STDT during index finger abductions increased significantly, with a time course similar to that of healthy subjects. Differently from healthy subjects, in patients with Parkinson's disease, the mean velocity of the finger abductions decreased according to the time lapse between movement onset and the delivery of the paired electrical stimuli for testing somatosensory temporal discrimination. In conclusion, patients with Parkinson's disease show abnormalities in the temporal coupling between tactile information and motor outflow. Our study provides first evidence that altered temporal processing of sensory information play a role in the pathophysiology of motor symptoms in Parkinson's disease.

Original languageEnglish
Article number249
JournalFrontiers in Neurology
Issue numberJUN
Publication statusPublished - Jun 6 2017


  • Basal ganglia
  • Movement
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Sensorimotor integration
  • Somatosensory temporal discrimination threshold
  • Temporal processing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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